Since my mother will be moving to my brother's in a few months, I am conscious of the need to clean out some detritus, especially in organizing, clarifying and purging old business papers. And when she moves, she will not have her bed or other equipment that belong to hospice here, and will receive same down in New Mexico when she arrives, from their hospice service. She has said she doesn't need the television ("I can't see it!") or much of other furniture. Her footprint, her presence, shrinks even more, as she awaits death with hunger.
Yet, with my own move to Peru on the approaching horizon, I am finding my own life-footprint has dramatically reduced. Instead of my 5-level 4-bedroom 3-bath house, I am in a small apartment (and LOVING it). Instead of an office overflowing with paperwork, we are constrained to a few plastic tubs, and trying to scan ourselves down to almost nothing. Instead of a cherry dining room table seating 10-12, we eat on a card table. And we are LOVING it!
We have divested ourselves of most of our family heirlooms, either by giving them to willing descendants or where none exists, to friends who will treasure them and the stories we've shared about the pieces. When we actually leave the apartment, what remains will go the way of the other ones. We have given away sterling silver flatware, serving dishes. Limoges china. Antique hand-painted teacups. Linens. Rocking chairs and china cabinets. Photographs. Recipe boxes from long ago. Damask tablecloths and handmade aprons. A thousand little treasures that I enjoyed seeing, touching, to a point ... but that I rarely used, and that buried me under the weight of other people's lives.
Ten, twenty years ago, I treasured these things. Now they choke me. I drown in their shadows.
In a sense, yes, I might be said to also be disappearing, in the sense of the detritus attached to us is dropping away. We are less 'significant' in the sense of our perceived stability, or our being Owners of Important Stuff in this world.
Instead, I feel a thousand pounds lighter. I feel like I can sprout wings and fly. Free of obligation to sit at the Altar of Ancestors, holding onto their things. Soon, we will be down to our two suitcases, flying to Peru, awaiting an unparalleled adventure.
Even if we have to come back to the USA, eventually I don't think we'll miss all the stuff. Meantime, I will look forward to growing old in the Andes, overlooking an unimaginably beautiful vista, helping others and growing old in peace with incredible richness of life.
My mother's slow disappearance is inevitable. Mine is more abrupt, more by choice, and I am utterly thrilled.