For years the man and I have talked about changing our life. We have discussed options and mulled over choices. We have prepared well for it, even if I do say so myself, having read every book we can lay our hands on which resonates with the lifestyle we wish to live.

We have waded our way through a diverse range of literature from the whimsical stories of people who have made the leap into their new life, many of whom appear to have opted for a quieter life growing grapes in rural Italy or France as well as writing books on their new life in their spare time, to  texts which explore career options for people who have been in their job 38 years and think a change might be in order. Ever practical, we have also read manuals containing budgeting, retiring, self-sufficiency, and downsizing advice.

Having read Paris Letters* recently and declared to the world via this blog that life was indeed going to change for me within two years, I decided it was timely that I started on the decluttering aspect of the plan.

The obvious place to begin this was the small store room in the roof space in the top bedroom. In here are ten or so boxes** comprising of family photos, many dating back generations, beautiful bone china tea sets, tablecloths hand embroidered by my mother for her trousseau, dressing table sets made by my forebears, some of whom were many greats back, books  and other sentimental things that have been left by my deceased parents. What do we do with them?

The plan was to spend the afternoon working my way through them to establish exactly what was there and then at a date to be decided, my sister and I would get together to make decisions on what is kept and by who, what gets donated and what gets thrown (this will be the smallest pile, we aren’t philistines!)

The exercise didn’t however go exactly to plan. Five minutes in I happened on a folder together with an exercise book that my mother had put together about her life. The sorting stopped. Clutching it, I climbed out of the storeroom and made myself comfortable on the bedroom floor. Starting with the folder, I pored over every certificate, job reference, school report and photo in it. I read the exercise book  from the first to the last page. I was reminded a lot about things I knew and things I knew, but had forgotten. I also learned new things; the most precious one being that my beloved grandmother’s ashes are interred in her parents’ grave at Purewa Cemetery. I will visit.

The folder and exercise book are on the ‘must keep’ pile.

 Paris Letters/ Janice MacLeod

**  There are also two boxes of books the daughter left  when she went overseas. She is back now: they will be returned.