Our kids don’t want our stuff. There, we said it. But poet Robert McGinness of Columbia, South Carolina, takes it a step further. Inspired by a piece that he saw by Richard Eisenberg on the website of our partners over at NextAvenue.com, Robert has composed some verse to drive it home: they don’t want our stuff, and they surely don’t want our parents’.
The dining room table is burdened with photograph albums.
The dim chandelier that can barely light up the ashtrays
overflowing with gem stones and brooches; the small bell collection
has been gathered and stored in the armoire o’er thousands of days.
The dust on the slumping grey couch with its white starchy doilies
has seeped into glass display hutches and dining room drawers
and covers the diaries and letters from far away places,
collected and bound with bright ribbon from forgotten wars.
And down in the basement a Lionel train set is idle,
a case of wine bottles collected for some unknown goal,
a box with a Girl Scout sash dutifully covered with badges,
while up in the guest room a waterbed waits for a role.
The parents have finally moved into assisted living;
or died in the house they had lived in for forty-two years;
or moved to be closer to grandchildren thinking to give them
an unwanted souvenir book from the old Mouseketeers.
We ponder alternatives: Craigslist or eBay or Goodwill.
We sit and stare, brain dead, not knowing what we’re gonna do.
The condo prohibits degrading their lawn with a yard sale.
And, always the question, “Oh where, Antiques Roadshow, are you?”
The guilt over promises made beside Mom’s or Dad’s deathbed
have burdened us mentally, physically for twenty years.
Our basements and attics and storage are full of frustrations,
and lurking somewhere in those boxes: a small set of fears.
It’s time for me now to downsize and get rid of my own stuff.
My children should never be burdened with all of these things;
care not about albums and posters of groups from the sixties,
or know Paul McCartney was in a great band before Wings.
Encumbered possessions is never the dream I had hoped for,
a burden bequeathed for eternity when I depart.
It’s not my belongings I want you to keep in your basement;
but memory of me, for a while, perhaps, keep in your heart.