Where did I put that wrench?

Columnist Claudette Sandecki on the difficulties of getting rid of stuff

Downsizing catches up to all of us as we age and physical limitations force us to consider moving to premises more easily accessed – on the ground floor, with extra wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers, and a minimum of outside chores such as lawn mowing and snow clearing.

Possessions acquired over our lifetime bulge our closets, spill from shelves, and cram our basements.

Boxes and plastic totes hold whatnots we may have forgotten we own, seldom or never have call for, and would need hours and assistance to locate if we did.

Having listened to elderly aunts speak of their efforts to divest themselves of surplus possessions so surviving grandchildren wouldn’t face hours of sorting and disposing of their stuff after they moved into a nursing home or passed on, I long since began surreptitiously passing on  to a relative anything they wanted or could use that I no longer needed or had several of.

A 10-year-old doing well in piano lessons eyed my 48-bass piano accordion.

I gladly offered it to her. Her brother, gaining skill with fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, returned home carrying the guitar I bought when I was 26 but never learned to play beyond a few basic chords.

In recent years I’ve given away books (though not my absolute favourites; they bring me joy just lined up in a bookcase); and less memorable items that nonetheless filled a niche for the recipient.

Deciding what and when to weed out is far more stressful than a dispassionate observer might fathom.

If you’ve watched one or more programs of the Hoarder TV series, you know how people dither over what to part with, torn by an unspoken litany of what ifs.

What if I may need this item tomorrow or in a week? I’ll have to go out and buy a replacement. What if the person who gave it to me finds out I gave it away or threw it out? Will they be angry with me?

They may start the program climbing over a mountain of varied stuff from new clothing with price tags still attached to rotten food, smelly garbage, and totally useless, broken furniture or dishes.

At the end of the day, even with professional help, they’ve sorted out an armful of things they can bear to part with, but have found excuses for hanging on to all the rest, no matter how useless it might be to them.

One way to speedily downsize is to hear a news bulletin warning a forest fire is approaching, be prepared to evacuate with only two hours notice. Most people seize documents like birth and marriage certificates, family photos, medications, youngsters’ stuffed teddy bears.

When my neighbourhood was alerted to an approaching forest fire several years back, I  listed essentials I should take.

Had we been ordered to leave, I would have had necessities. Fortunately, the fire never got closer than two miles.

Professional organizers suggest if you haven’t used an item in two years, chances are you never will. This may hold for clothing, never tools.

It’s been my experience, not a week later I’ll wish I had the wrench, must then go out and buy another. But at least I didn’t buy a replacement because my original was buried or “lost” among clutter.

I understand the anxiety of downsizing and parting with possessions.

Sorting anxiety slows me from hauling even recycling to the curb.

And to pare my closet? Paralyzes me. The winter jacket in perfect condition I outgrew seven years ago? I might fit into it again. Don’t laugh; it could happen, couldn’t it?

Just Posted

Moose hunting restrictions proposed to help balance population and allocation

Regulation options set to move forward with input by April or May 2018

Province to boost ER services at Mills Memorial

Money to add salaried doctor positions

Province opens public input on policing standards

The move flows from recommendations of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry

Terrace hockey player breaks all-time points record in Major Midget League

Prospects are bright for Mason Richey, suiting up this fall with the West Kelowna Warriors

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Golden Knights win 4-1, remain undefeated against Canucks

Vegas gets points from 12 players in dominating effort versus Vancouver

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals on the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

Terrace Interiors Ltd. to close after 56 years

The interior paint store will shut its doors on May 10

B.C. bravery, public service honoured by Governor General Julie Payette

UVic basketball coach Kathryn Shields inducted into Order of Canada

Most Read