Monday, 28 July 2014

I have been clearing out

again. Those of you who bother to read this will know that I have been helping a friend enter a nursing home. One of the things we have had to do is clear out her "unit" (small flat or apartment at street level).
She has relatively few possessions. One reason for this is that she has lived and worked in other countries. She could never take much with her, would leave only a few things stored with friends and then leave more behind when she left the place she had been living in.
Her pursuits are entirely academic but even her books are few. When we have culled a few cookbooks then her books will fit into one small bookshelf.
Most of her unwanted items are going to charity. Charity shops won't take electrical goods so we are passing those on to a family we know who needs them.
It has still been a surprising amount of work.
"There's a box of old stuff there - can you go through it and find...?" she asked.
I wonder if she realised what she was asking me to do? It made me feel very uncomfortable - and sad.  I found things I did not expect - notes from me and cards I had sent her. The birthday cards her sister had sent her were in a little heap with a rubber band. There was a photograph of her with two children - the children of her friend in Noumea. She had been there on holiday.
And there was very little else of a personal nature - an old passport, two address books, and a few medical documents.
As the address books show, she has friends - although they do not live in this state - but she has not kept anything from them. She has made no contact with them in over eighteen months. It would not be that she does not care but that she has not had the energy to be bothered.
But, there were the notes I had sent her - a name and address she needed (of a person long deceased), a telephone number for a doctor friend, how to wash a mohair cardigan that she wore threadbare - and so it went on.
And then I wondered - if a country had to move house what would it take? What would its address book look like? What possessions would it take? Why would it choose to keep what it kept? It is just a fanciful thought. 
But I can't ask my friend why she has kept those things either. I wish I didn't know she had.

No comments: