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JOTTINGS: Deciding what to keep, maybe keep and not keep


“Three piles,” my son, Abbo, said, “One for things you want to keep, one for things you may want to keep and one for things you know you don’t want to keep.”

Then we went to the first room full of things I didn’t want to look at or think about and made three piles.

Beginning, a few weeks ago, voluntary evacuation from the beloved home I’ve served for 51 years and struggled to keep for the last decade. It’s time to go now. It’s all over.

“Where are you going?” they all say. Sometimes I say, “I don’t know” or “How should I know?” or “What do you mean, where am I going?”

If there’s enough time and interest, I explain, “Where I am going is not relevant right now. What I must do is disengage from the life I am living that is no longer relevant. Disengage from places and things surrounding me I cannot live without, knowing they are the same things I cannot live with.

This is a very big deal. I’m not alone. It happens to almost all of us born in the 1930s. We’re dealing with it one way or another. Hardly any of us want to be taken away. I can still imagine creating a beautiful, cluster of small dwellings on my land, in my neighborhood, for a lively group of olders to enjoy being the last of the Silent generation on earth. What a sweet dream that has been!

My son, Heinka, said, “Mom, where do you want to be? What do you want to do? You can go anywhere, do anything” And I say, “I want to walk to the adult center, the library, Chucks for coffee and a blueberry muffin, my sweet, new bank or take a bus or a train to Portland or Wilsonville.” Just can’t tell him that I want to be at home when the fact is, I’ve done almost everything I want to do and, like Dorothy said after being disappointed by the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

I am grateful for two sons who have been wise since their beginnings. While I tear up over memories of good times and life celebrations, they remind me that what I want now is a new, smaller life I can manage. Yes, yearning for a life I can manage.

Finish writing my book. Painting. Poetry. Learning things I didn’t learn in school. Math. Science. A blog, really want to make a blog. Want to do nothing and would like nothing to be OK. Want to watch birds. Always want to watch birds at home, here, now, and light, I surely need light. A window with light. Creating things, connecting with the spirit of it all. Then I’ll drop like a leaf in the fall to the ground where I’ll be forever and it will be heaven.

In the meantime, I love it here, in this generation, having been the age of my sons and grandchildren. Realizing that their world is not mine. They are in charge of themselves. I am in charge of what’s next and what’s next waits for me in three piles — things I want to keep, may want to keep and don’t want to keep.