Where does sentimentality lead us?

I love my family, my friends, my dogs, my books and where I live. This latter, however, doesn’t mean the bricks and mortar of my current living location. It means the swell of the south downs; the grey, blue, green, smooth, wrinkled or furious sea; the memories of my childhood in the streets, on the esplanade, in the shops and pubs; the love of my parents and grandparents expressed in cuddles, stories and time.

Sentimentality is different – I have a sentimental attachment to very little – some of my books; my grandmother’s wedding ring; the silver bracelets once belonging to my brother; a painting my daughter did for me of the Seven Sisters; some of my photographs. That’s it really, there’s a freedom for me in knowing that I’m not sentimental about my flat – I do enjoy the sea view but the place itself is just where I lay my head in reasonable but not luxurious comfort.

I know it’s not the same for my mother and for many more older people now living solo in increasingly cluttered and dilapidated houses with once beautiful, now jungly, gardens. But how I wish it was – if we could only learn not to invest so much of ourselves in bricks and mortar and ‘stuff’, how much easier to recognise when the time comes to be practical and move somewhere smaller, easier and safer. When a house becomes a millstone for the occupant and their family, it creates tensions in the family, makes things hard for everyone. I know there are as many options for living as there are sizes and shapes of families and no one solution works for all, but right now in my own life, I wish the solutions could be practical and not for sentimental reasons.

We are lucky to have choices. As write, I feel self indulgent and think of those living on the streets, and dying on those streets; of those in refugee camps; those in makeshift shelters; in cramped one room accommodation; in damp flats with peeling wallpaper; those affected by floods. Then I think of those with second homes; with mansions; with castles; with empty properties earning money for their owners through no effort of theirs and wonder again at how skewed our society is.

3 thoughts on “Where does sentimentality lead us?

  1. Tracey

    Gosh. What a lot to think about here!

    I completely agree with you about how skewed and unequal our society is and count myself as one of the very privileged baby boomers who had good libraries, free education and training and managed to get ourselves on the first rung of the housing ladder relatively easily. It jars so much with the difficulties kids face nowadays with so much debt before they even leave education and then having their aspirations quashed by youth unemployment and high housing prices. I have a lot to be thankful for and think about it often. I keep promising myself that I need to pay something back (or rather forward) to the next generation.

    Sentimentality – I have to admit I’m one of those people who suffer from this, or perhaps I’m just a hoarder. I still have all my birthday cards from my 18th birthday, a box of ticket stubs from concerts I’ve been to, a box of ornaments fom my mothers house than I cant part with, and examples of work and reports that I remain proud of from my early career. However, i know in a very practical sense, they have to be got rid of. I don’t want to leave it as a problem or burden for someone else in the family. So much better to do it yourself and downsize whilst you still have the physical and mental capacity to do so.

    I’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about how you spend the first part of your life trying to accrue things, only to spend the next half trying to get rid of them. It’s the latter part I’m struggling with as I dont want to leave it all to someone else who will simply see it as a massive problem and consign everything to a skip. It’s where to start that’s the problem…

    1. srhplfrth Post author

      Downsizing helps enormously, I’ve done it twice and am now in a very manageable flat (not special retirement as such, just easy). I’ve had to sort and dump half of my mum’s stuff already when we arranged adaptations to allow ground floor living for her. She refused to move then and the result is that I have been running her house and finances for over ten years now. I wish she had moved! Now we are faced with a move to care home and the rest of the stuff to sort and dump! Much better to be able to give things to family, charity etc before that moment comes. I’ve learnt from the experience and am determined my girls won’t have the same problems when my time comes!

      1. Tracey

        My sentiments exactly. Better to take control in planning your own downsizing than leave it for others and then not be involved in decisions about what goes where.

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