I am the keeper of the family heirlooms. I have my maternal grandmother’s silver tea set, handwritten recipes from her notebooks and her diamond engagement ring, my stepgrandmother’s poetry, both grandmothers’ china cups and saucers, and craft supplies and clothing from both my mother and my mother-in-law. In fact, I’m wearing my mom’s blue knit shirt right now.
Many mornings I sit in Grandma Avina’s wooden rocker softened with the pillows I crocheted for it and rock as I write in my journal. Occasionally I wonder what will happen to the many volumes of my journal after I die. Should I burn them to hide my secrets? When? Or should I keep them for future biographers, in case I became famous?
I recently worked out my will, and frankly the extra notes are more important to me than the standard bits about money and things like the car and house. I never had much money, so we’ll be lucky if I come out even in the end, and I’m happy to give wheels and lodging to whoever needs it. What I worry about are my writings, musical instruments, jewelry, photos, books, quilted wall hangings, the desk that Grandpa Al and Uncle Tony made for my mother’s brother long before I was born, the bookshelves that used to be in Grandpa Fagalde’s house, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima that my late godmother bought for me when I was a religion-crazed little girl, things like that. What about those miniskirts I saved because they were so cool? Or the photos from my first marriage? What will happen to these things? Who will sort them? Who will care?
It’s not really just a childless thing. If you’re lucky enough to have a son or daughter who understands and cares about the same things you care about, you might hope they treat everything with respect. But they might not. And with stepchildren, they really might not.
The truth is everybody’s stuff is up for grabs. Grandma Rachel never had kids of her own. Grandma Ann had two children and six grandchildren, but both ended up with young folks plowing through their things, throwing gobs of it away and offering the rest to anyone who wanted it. That’s how I got the china cups and a turquoise necklace that Grandma Ann probably never wore.
That’s how I got Mom’s clothes. I bagged the ones that fit and brought them home. My father, distraught from his loss, just wanted them gone.
Nobody cares about your stuff as much as you do.
Many of the women I have interviewed don’t worry about their stuff. When they’re dead, they’re dead, they say. How do you feel about it? If you don’t have children, who will sort through your stuff? This is a morbid subject, but having sorted too many dead relatives’ things, I know it’s an important one. How does the woman without children make sure someone cares for her treasures when she’s gone? I’d love to hear your comments, especially if you know of some particularly creative things women have done with their worldly goods.
4 thoughts on “Who will inherit my stuff?”
Hi Sue,>>You have no idea how refreshing and exciting to find your blog. Most of all, to find someone who share the value of being childless by choice. I am very much like you choose to be childless. You can share or ask me anything about my opinion of being childless in helping with your research. I am married and have the most spoiled cat in the whole wide world. My e-mail contact is email@example.com. Hope to chat with you more soon.
I care about what happens to my stuff and the stuff I will inherit from my parents. I want someone to find it meaningful just as I find it meaningful. I want someone to treasure these things because they have a long history. I realize that without having the daughter I thought I would I don’t have an automatic chain of inheritance but there weren’t any guarantees of that anyway. Perhaps there will be a niece or a nephew. Or some non-related young person will come into my life and become the link. I do think about it so thank you for writing about this issue.
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Hi Sue,..>>I am very happy to find your blog! At least,.. I do find somebody who is in the same shoes as I am! I am married and 36 years old. I am living in Australia.>>I do not have a blog yet (although I have one in Indonesian version as I am Indonesian. However,.. I don’t think that people find my blog is entertaining due to my childless wolrd!!).>>For myself and my dearest husband, John,.. we are very happy of what we are. We love each other very much and I guess that’s all matter. However,.. it is sometimes quite hard for other people to understand and respect us for what we are.>>Once again,.. thank you for sharing your story with me. I have marked your blog is one of my favourites and I guess will soon start my own blog (English version) about my childless world.>>Take care>Vonny
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