Recycle, Remember, Release

Today I took a trip into the past. Mum’s house is still vacant, despite her passing over a year ago, but finally preparations are happening in earnest to sell it.I thought there might be more tears but time has a way of healing and reducing that ache and in its place leaving bitter sweet memories.

So many happy meals shared here
Lots of happy meals shared around this table

Anyone who’s lost both parents knows what it’s like. Pouring through “stuff”, reliving memories, holding on to sentimental items is part of the grieving and ultimately ‘letting go’ process.

But it doesn’t always happen overnight.

In my old bedroom yesterday I poured over boxes of trinkets I’d left there. Long forgotten momentos of my youth, dozens of retro earrings, beads, gloves, head pieces.

I had a few wild hippy years and the trinkets made me smile at the memories.

How ironic that in two weeks time we’re going to a good friend’s daughter’s 21st birthday party. The theme is 1920s and some of my past life recycled costume jewellery will be perfect.

A glimpse into my bejewelled past!

What goes around comes around. Mostly.

So much can be recycled, years after their use. Though a lot will also be discarded.

I even found old coins no longer in circulation, the one and two cent piece. They’re worth nothing today yet somehow they still feel like a symbol of abundance. For at one time in my childhood this combined total bought me a decent bag of mixed lollies.

Ah, sweet memories.

They might not be worth anything now but once they were …

Outside in the garden the green waste recycling started. Weeding, pruning, cutting down branches, mowing grass. Cutting down the old to make way for the new. Another family will hopefully, in time, enjoy mum’s once cherished garden.

Hubby found a huge lifelike plastic spider (probably thrown over the fence by the kids next door) and, being the prankster that he is, strategically placed it on my sister’s car windscreen.

Hours later, from inside, I heard her screaming. Clearly she’d found it. I found out later hubby had picked it up off the windscreen and flicked it onto her. It was only when it landed, rubbery side up, that she realised it was fake.

Yes, there were definitely more laughs than tears this weekend. Mum would have been happy.

Recycling the old, reliving the past then letting it go to make way for the new. That’s what this weekend was all about. It was a big start.

Me at the Recycling Centre, clearing out the old green waste

A few things I learnt from our day:

  1. The three box method of decluttering really is the best way. One for rubbish, one for donating and another for keeping and sorting later. I was more ruthless with discarding stuff then I imagined myself to be. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m embracing a new path.
  2. Everyone grieves in their own way. We haven’t rushed the selling of mum’s home, for various reasons, but now it’s time.
  3. It’s good to have a momento or two but everything has its day, even all those old photo albums that I created. These will be the hardest things to part with but there’ll come a time when they too will have to go. We came with nothing. We leave with nothing.
  4. It’s good to look back over old memories but it’s today that counts. And making new memories.
  5. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Loving life

Make today count.

Cherish every moment and don’t be afraid to release those things that hold you back. Outdated things, toxic relationships, negative emotions and situations … if it doesn’t serve you, let it go.

Recycle that plastic, relive the fun road trips and remember those heartfelt memories that made you who you are but more importantly relish the moment.

That’s most really matters. Living right now and making every moment special.

In light and love as we continue the journey.

Sharing for: Frank’s Photo Challenge: Recycle

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133 thoughts on “Recycle, Remember, Release

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, yeah it wasn’t too difficult yesterday though I think when it comes to going through and sorting mum’s personal stuff, that’ll be the really hard part. But we’ll get there. Hugs back x

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  1. Both my parents are still alive so I can only imagine how hard it is to realize the finality of it all. We will all go through this in one way or another and to embrace it as you have is so healthy. All in due time…best way to approach any situation and when you’re ready, you’re ready. I was thinking the same thing about your jewelry it will come in handy for your party! Oh ironic. Was it still scorching out? I hope it wasn’t too hot, although I think it was. I bet there were so many fun times around that dining table, such love and caring. Where you learned to be the beautiful, loving, caring, genuine, unique woman you are today!! Your Mum & Dad are smiling down on you and feeling so proud, you can be sure of that!! Big hugs xo

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    1. Aww you’re so nice to me!! Yeah, the finality is there and some days it really hits me but mostly I’m in a good place now. Enough time has passed for me to feel the peace. Mum would want us to move on, yes remembering special times but also living our lives fully.
      Fortunately the temperature dropped right down yesterday so it was blessedly cooler to work in (no way could I have done what I did in 41C temps!!) Hope you’re staying warm over there. Sending big hugs back to you my friend xo

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      1. You are right, your Mum would want you to move on, so glad you are there. Oh the temps did drop some, wonderful!! Well tomorrow starts the warm up so that will help. Many hugs xo 🙂💖

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  2. Big hugs. Giving and throwing away things that contains sweet memories are hard. I’m still keeping some of my daughter’s old clothes because they are way too small for her, they still have her smell!

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  3. Hi Miriam, what a day of rediscovering and reliving your younger days! I started decluttering a few years back, keep donating and recycling things that I haven’t used for the last 20 + years. I’ll continue to do it for the next few years. I don’t want to leave too much behind for my daughter to go through. I left daughter’s things in her bedroom. Every time she and her family come to visit, she goes through her stuff and asks me to recycle certain things. So she is doing it at her pace and I’m doing mine at my pace. Eventually, I want to keep the basic things.
    Your reflection is always insightful!

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    1. Thanks Miriam. I think decluttering is an ongoing process in our own homes. There’s always something to cull and if something new is brought into our home I generally try and recycle something out. Sounds like you’re teaching your daughter some good habits.

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  4. What a lovely tribute, it looks like each stage of saying good-bye to your Mom’s house was done with grace – I was especially touched by the reminder that we come into the world without things and leave the world the same way. I try to look at the objects I inherit or collect through that lens, they are like sand falling through my fingers, forever moving through the world! Thank you for sharing this beautiful post.

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    1. That’s such a lovely way of looking at it. “Like sand falling through my fingers, forever moving through the world”. It’s so true. Nothing is permanent and nothing is forever. Thanks Kim. xo

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  5. It was good to read this post Miriam and to hear that there comes a time when you’re ready to take the next step. I’m sure your mum would be happy to see her house being prepared for a new family. Your memories and trinkets are all part of you and your family and your history together. All the best to you as you travel down this next road. xx

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  6. Such a lovely post Miriam, thank you. Such wise true words. I lost my Dad in November 2014 and my mom 7 months later (I think of a broken heart). It was so difficult to pack up their home but also had joy finding things we had completely forgotten about and obviously treasured by our folks. The pain does dull, although the ‘missing’ lingers.

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    1. I’m sure the “missing” never completely goes away, even after many years. Thanks for your kind words here Cheryl and I’m sorry for the late reply too. I only just found your comment. Warmest wishes to you.

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  7. Oh I remember those bags of mixed lollies from the Milk Bar!!! 😉
    When we cleared out Mum and Dad’s old place ( the original family home) a few years ago when they downsized to a unit, there was so much clutter and stuff! We only kept the important things, but I took photos of everything else and then got rid of them. At least we still have a visual recollection of them through the photos. It’s a tough job Miriam. Xx

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    1. That’s a great idea Lorelle, I’ve been doing the same. Somehow it’s easier to let go once we have a visual.
      As for that milk bar you mentioned, when we went back to Sale on Sunday I actually commented to Doug that the area just wasn’t the same as the general milk bar (that I used to cycle to all the time) was gone. But I guess that’s life. xo

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  8. Such a wonderful read, which brought a few pricks of tears to my eyes too.. Its always hard when clearing out mementos which brings back such wonderful family memories of happy times.
    But this is the right time to start the clearing process
    Letting go is how I began my year by clearing out cupboards closets and sorting out bags for charity.. A lot of old books too I finally let go of, knowing that someone else will be inspired by their pages..
    So I am sure many more will be pleased of your donations, and another family will sit around another table and make more happy memories within your childhood home..
    Love and Blessings dear Miriam..
    And Yes Keep Loving Life! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sue, your words are heartfelt and kind and mean a lot. I must admit that books was always the hardest thing for me to give up and give away as I was growing up, loved my books so much, but I’ve since learnt there’s no point holding onto things just for the sake of it. Good for you. Keep decluttering and clearing, keep smiling and have a wonderful week ahead. Hugs ❤️

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  9. In the land where everything that moves (and many things that don’t) can kill you, I completely understand your sisters panicked reaction to feeling a huge spider land on her.

    Your hubby sounds like my kind of guy 😉

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  10. I have a heap of photos in my bedroom- relics of Dad’s and some taken by others that feature him. I really ought to do something with them but I’m not sure what. I smile whenever I catch him ‘looking’ at me. 🙂 🙂 His house is still on the market but stripped of the furnishings and I really don’t want to go back there.

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    1. Aww Jo, it’s hard isn’t it? I so get it. We’ve still got so much of mum’s personal stuff to sort through, that’s going to be the hard part, working out what to do with it all. Bit by bit I think I’m going to have to be ruthless and just cull. Probably shed some tears along the way, keep the odd momento but then give it up. Good luck to you too with your dad’s place. One way or another we’ll both get it sorted. xo

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  11. Now that is one of the more difficult tasks we have to deal with. One of the few things that I kept from my parents Home was a sausage fork. I never use it but it lives in our cutlery drawer as a reminder of my childhood. My parents bought it by mail order from the US and thought that it was brilliant. It was the most talked about thing in the house. I think that the clean out and selling up is part of the healing process.

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    1. I think you’re right. Funny you mentioned the sausage fork, often it’s those small inconsequential items that hold the most poignant memories. I can think of a couple of things that I’d like to keep that especially remind me of mum in the kitchen. ❤️

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  12. Miriam, you’ve faced a difficult task with such grace. I’m sure having your sister and your husband there made all the difference too. I’ve been spending these school holidays doing a little declutter each day, keeping some but discarding most of what I’ve been sorting. I like your idea – if it doesn’t serve you, let it go. The most treasured things I’ve kept are the little notes, cards and pictures my daughters made when they were little. Happy Tuesday to you. 🙂

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    1. Oh Carol, if you knew how many of those precious cards and pictures I have from my kids, they really are hard to part with aren’t they? But it’s good to have a bit of a purge every now and again cos we can’t keep everything. I’ve been photographing a lot of stuff too and letting it go. Happy decluttering and happy Tuesday to you too. 🙂

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  13. Oh Miriam another wonderful post. I love your attitude on things. I too have embarked on a massive cleanout. I am doing the Konmari method of getting my house in order once and for all. I would be really interested to know what you do with discarded photographs. Such a dilemma. Your mum would be thrilled at the sound of laughter in her house, though that pitchfork would be required for anyone who threw a spider my way, fake or otherwise, lol. Barbara

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    1. Hi Barbara, I’ll be honest I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with all the photos and albums. Someone suggested digitally scanning them but there’s way too many. For now they’re in boxes but there may come a day when I’ll have to be ruthless and turf them. But not just yet. I’m curious, what’s the Konmari method?

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  14. Hi Miriam! This reminds me of when my husband and I cleared out his parent’s home. It was the biggest job!! Hard because of the sentimental things, but like you said, everything has its time, and we need to let go. Hope you’re doing well, and I wish you a joyful 2018! xx

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    1. Thanks so much Jenny. Lovely to hear from you. Just to let you know I’ve just been reading your blog and I left a comment on an Unexpected Gift (a beautiful post by the way) which promptly disappeared. A lot of my comments have been doing that lately so maybe check your spam folder. 🤔Wishing you a wonderful 2018. xo

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      1. Thank you Miriam! I’ll check spam. I’m just now getting back to blogging, took time off during the holidays. It feels so good to get a little caught up on reading, yours is at the top of my list!💜

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  15. Joy and sorrow are such close friends and often found together. Miriam, your strength and spirit during this hard time shines through – you are an inspiration. You do right to sell when it feels the correct time for you – here’s to memories and creating new ones. hugs, my friend! xxx ps. Is that an old British coin?? I think I see the queen’s head on it?

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    1. Thank you so much Annika, your words are wise as always, as joy and sorrow are indeed often so closely linked. The coins are the Australian one and two cent piece (now defunct) and yes, it’s the queen’s head in it. Big hugs back xo

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  16. I think that’s a very wise way to handle cleaning our your parent’s house. Wait until you are ready to tackle the project, and then value the memories but remember that stuff is sometimes just stuff, and there isn’t always a reason to keep it. I know the day is coming when I’ll have to do the same thing with my mom’s house. I hope I can remember you wise words when that day comes! Hugs to you….

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    1. Thanks Ann. It’s not been an easy exercise and I know that sorting through mum’s personal possessions will be the hardest and most emotional part, but slowly but surely we’ll get there. Hugs back xo

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  17. A lovely uplifting post. I still have my Mum who turns 90 in a couple of months. It is hard to think of a time without her but I know it will come. It is good to hear that grieving takes its course and that you now can relive the memories with joy, not tears. Good luck with the house sale. I have to admit – there is no way I could throw out photographs. I’m leaving it up to whoever has the misfortune to tidy up after I’m gone to get rid of all mine.

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    1. I totally understand what you mean Irene. I have a feeling that the boxes of photo albums may well stay that way for many years. Thanks for your kind words and well wishes. Enjoy still having your mum around and making those special memories. x

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  18. It was heartbreaking to read the first few lines of your post. 😦 And then you changed course to something more uplifting. “Laughter really is the best medicine.” I couldn’t agree more! Life is filled with ups and downs. And you show me how to get through the lows and appreciate the highs! Warm hugs my friend!

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  19. Oh Miriam, I am so touched by your contribution to Frank’s challenge! You are courageous and such a being of Light and love. Congratulations and big hugs for going through your mum’s place. I relate … my mom died about 10 years ago, and the grieving and letting go process has a life of its own, and it really transformed my consciousness. Sending you SO MUCH LOVE!

    You are welcome to contribute this post, or another of your choice ❤ , to Forgiving Fridays. It's a beautiful, shining example of the power of letting go in your usual sweet manner. You are amazing Miriam. I'm grateful to have gotten to know your mum a bit through your blog writing. Big hugs to you and I love you – Debbie
    ps – I love your Charlie Brown cartoon … what a positive and uplifting direction. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very kind Debbie. Thank you so much for your loving and supportive words, they mean so much. I’m sure you can relate to the ongoing process of letting go, it’s continual isn’t it and it really does change the way we are. I hope you’re doing well and of course I’d be only too willing to contribute a post to your Forgiving Friday’s. Whether it’s this one or a future one I think your blog is a beautiful space you’ve created to nurture both yourself and others. Big hugs and much love to you my friend xo ❤️

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      1. Wonderful Miriam! 🙂 ❤ I so love you and am touched by your experience with your mom. I plan to share this post even if you also contribute another one for tomorrow. YOU ARE AMAZING. Big hugs from across the pond. Love and blessings, Debbie

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        1. You are amazing too Debbie. Even though I don’t get across to your blog half as much as I’d like to I just want you to know that I love all your very inspiring forgiving work that you do. Yes feel free to share this post thank you. Big hugs and blessings back to you xo ❤️

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        2. If course I send my love, to you both Debbie. 💜💜 Oodles and oodles of it. Big hugs, lots of love and my warmest wishes for your happiness, love and joy. 💕

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  20. This title of the post carries some meaningful things and thoughts.
    Stepwise you talk of Mom, the memories you had with her and in the house you shared those precious moments.
    The recycling part is mind boggling, it is to be taken seriously in the whole of the world. If at all we want next generations to live. We consume such a lot these days from earth.
    The images you shared are nice.
    Enjoyed this post Miriam.
    Regards 💞🎶🌷
    Shiva

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  21. Oooh the memories of Dad and Mom are really worth remembering now and then. I lost my Dad 2 years back and Mom is ailing in Bed. It irritates to see her in bed with all the pains. It is as if she wants to get rid of her body. OMG!

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    1. Oh Shiva, I feel for your poor mum and for you too. I know how hard it is to see someone we love, especially a parent, in pain. Sending you both my warmest wishes. 💖🙏

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  22. Yes Miri – A time of reflection, moments of joy at finding some hidden treasure, moments of sadness at having to let some things go and the realisation that as you say… things are just things that disappear in the ether of time and can’t be taken with us. It’s that realisation of what’s really important and you’ve been doing plenty of that – creating happy memories, that for our families will stand the test of time and remain after we’re gone and again, you’re right – those moments of laughter really are the best medicine! LOL – your poor sister… naughty Doug but very funny xxx

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    1. Thanks Wendy for your very kind and wise words. Yes, at the end of the day they’re all things but isn’t it amazing how sentimental we become when it’s time to part with them. Thank God for Doug keeping me sane and grounded with his whacky ways. xo

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  23. At first, it seems impossible and the pain too deep, but time does have a way to whittling down the sharpness to bittersweet memories and gratitude for having our parents in our lives for as long as they lived. It’s never easy to let go, but like you rightly said, we came with nothing and we go with nothing. Beautiful post.

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  24. I understand how hard this can be: my mother moved out of our childhood home a couple of years back, left it unlocked and containing everything still, right down to her diamond wedding ring and all our old belongings, and said that she had called 1800gotjunk and we had a month or two to get anything we wanted. I stayed there for days at a time and tended to err on the side of taking everything of possible value–deceased father’s belongings, my own things, family heirlooms like plates and even silverware–I still have had no chance to unpack most of it and see what would be of use to others or to me. The time pressure was a terrible but effective way to encourage us to loot the place and then be done with it.

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    1. Oh, that sounds all pretty sudden and dramatic. At least we’ve had the luxury of time (although this has its down sides as well) but still we have to go back and clear out the rest. It’s a hard one isn’t it, knowing what to keep and what to get rid of and where to draw the line.

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      1. I tended to feel that since it was sort of a smash and grab that I should take any ‘maybes’ and then sort them out later. Fortunately we moved to a community where there are a lot of resources like free stores and rummage sales to give things away through, and charity shops and a big town flea market etc. I throw away as little as possible since so many things can be reused and i hate to waste. It has been sobering that a lot of the ex/current hippies and older folks in this area are aging and genuinely in need, so we all try to do our best to help.

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        1. We were living in NJ and there were NO resale shops, no rummage sales through churches or synagogues in the area we lived in. It was a very closed system, so we have held onto it all until now. This feels much better here, much more sense of community.

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