Gaining Space
Coaching for a Clutter-Free Life



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This lamp is not my grandpa


You may know how close I was to my 100-year-old grandfather. And, when he passed away a few years ago, following his wishes, I flew to California to clean out his apartment. It was pretty emotional, but I tried to keep my sentimentality in-check while I went through all of his stuff.

I was doing really well. Going through everything quickly.

  • I donated all his books to the little library in the Independent Living Home where he lived.

  • I gave away useful things to his close friends and neighbors — his dining hall partner and “bestie” Bernice got his walker.

  • Another neighbor got his leftover Tide laundry detergent and Downy fabric softener sheets.

  • I went by an antiques store in his town and arranged to have a couple buyers stop by and look at his furniture. They took a few things.

  • I donated all of his clothes (except for 2 brown belts from the ‘50s which were my size and super-cool) — it all went to his favorite charity, The Salvation Army.

The folks at The Salvation Army and I got to know each other real well those few days, as I took carload after carload of his belongings to them in my rented Hyundai Sonata. (side note: Comfy seats in a Hyundai Sonata.)

And to curb any sentimentality that might come up with me, I promised myself I would only take as many of his possessions that would fit in a USPS Medium Flat Rate Box (that’s 11 x 8-1/2 x 5-1/2). It was easy. Just 2 belts, but then…

I hit a sentimental snag —

During my clean-out, I ran across this lamp (pictured above) – I had always loved and wanted this lamp. But let’s be real — I lived in a 375-square-foot apartment in New York CIty AND I would need to get it all the way across the country.

So I texted this photo to two people, asking:

“Hmmm…What do you think? Do I lug this heavy lamp back to NY? I’ve always loved it and wanted it but don’t know where it would go in my apartment… or do I take it to charity? Erg, I don’t know!”

1) A very close friend (a lovely, honest, straight-forward friend) replied instantly: No, no, and yes!

2) My man, who is more thoughtful and sentimental, wrote: Tough call. Probably take it, since you’ve always loved it…. Maybe move the current lamp or… some other rearranging.

I decided to go with the “No, no, and yes!” advice.

I have come across similar situations in the past, where I was adamant on having [whatever that thing was]…. Then I’d go through great expense and trouble to obtain [that thing], only to later get rid of it.

This time, I decided to skip all those expensive, time-consuming, clutter-filled in-between steps and just let it go NOW.

I took this photo to jog my memory and remember him and my grandmother by. That’s all I really needed.

That lamp is not my grandpa. That lamp is not my grandma. I can let it go and still remember them.

I don’t need these objects to remember them.

Keeping my grandparent’s possessions and having their old stuff clutter up MY home isn’t going to serve me, or their memory.

* * *

And, BONUS…! I have one less thing in my apartment to dust!

How ‘bout you…?

Are you keeping anything solely based on sentimentality? If so, what is it? Does it get in your way? Do you hate cleaning around it? Or are you filled with JOY to see and use it every day?

Tell us, in the comments below.