By Joe Rector
I remember when Amy and I were young. We married in December 1974 and moved into UT student housing on New Year’s Day. Our first place was a concrete block box with a concrete slab that was covered with some of the ugliest and cheapest carpet ever made. The place was furnished with hand-me-downs and a chair I bought while I was in college. For close to fifty years, we’ve been accumulating more stuff.
We moved from that apartment to a house that hadn’t been lived in for several years, and then we purchased a house built by the Doyle High School building trades classes. It was a typical three-bedroom room rancher. The shag carpet was an almost chartreuse. We bought new living room furniture and accepted some more giveaway pieces from family. One bedroom had a small sleeper couch so that visitors had a place to lay their weary heads. We were proud homeowners who couldn’t wait for the day to decorate the place with pieces that fit our style.
In 1978, we built our house. My mother gave us a piece of property with the promise that a path from our house to hers wouldn’t be worn into the soil. It happened, but the culprit was she on her way to our house to see grandchildren or to meet them halfway to her house as they walked.
We started with a 1250 square foot house with two bedrooms. An addition was necessary when Dallas was on the way. Another renovation took place when we needed a place for the children to play. A third one included a nine-hundred square foot porch on which I now am sitting as the rain pours. We’ve updated the kitchen and Amy’s bathroom. At this point, we’re finished. The only thing we plan to do is fix things and replace worn out items.
Amy and I have now changed our approach about things. Instead of adding new things, we’re trying to get rid of them. Untold numbers of trips have been made to KARM and other places to donate all sorts of things. People ask why we don’t hold a garage sale. The simple answer is it takes too much time for too little profit, and of course, some things don’t sell. So, they have to be loaded and taken to…KARM. I believe in cutting out the middleman as much as possible.
Amy has talked to Lacey and Dallas about things around the house. She tells them to put their names on anything they would like either now or after we are gone. From this, l’ve learned some things about the younger generation.
First, they don’t like to talk about a time when their parents are gone. I understand that but know it is going to happen. If we take care of some of this property now, the two of them will have an easier time later.
Second, young folks aren’t all that crazy about antiques. We loved old washstands and dressers and tables. For the most part, our children simply have no desire to set those old pieces in their houses.
Third, your children will form attachments to the craziest things that you have. Years ago, Amy’s Aunt Mildred gave us a white porcelain cat for a present. It was one of those things a person looks at and wonders why it’s there. At any rate, that porcelain feline has survived the years. Lacey and Dallas always begin to argue, good naturedly, about who gets the cat. I don’t understand, but I’m glad I won’t be around when the final decision is made.
Fourth, age brings with it common sense. Amy and I aren’t all that fond of having so much clutter in the house. A couple knows it’s time to get rid of things when even under the beds they have storage bins crammed full of stuff.
Before anyone asks, the answer is “no.” We aren’t ready to wholesale open up our house to let folks take stuff out. That’s a job our children should enjoy immensely after our times have come and gone. At that point, they’ll discover what are the truly valuable items in their hearts. Maybe it will be something as odd as a porcelain cat.