But What About the Memories?

Imagine returning home from a shopping trip to find your house leveled! That’s just what happened to a couple in Michigan. A demolition crew was given the wrong address, and all that remained of a grandmother’s old home was a cement slab.

But the amazing thing was their attitude! No anger, but a calm shrug of the shoulders and “Mistakes happen.” Perhaps their serenity was partly possible because of living elsewhere, while remodeling the place as their future down-sized retirement home. So the main personal effects lost were some furniture and books.

“But what about the memories?” they asked him.

“Oh, I still have them,” he said tapping his head. “They’re all up here. No one can ever take them from me.” And how right he is. As long as our mind remains sound, we’ll always have our memories. Even if we lose all else, memories will linger on. And with or without all the stuff no one can ever take them from us!

Why do we keep stuff?

What makes us want to hold on to excess and unnecessary stuff?

As I listened to relatives discuss this very issue a few days later, I couldn’t help but notice a big contrast. They could never move from their homes they decided, because of too much ‘stuff’. But the way they pronounced the word ‘stuff’, showed that they questioned, deep down, how they ever got so much, and why they even keep it.

“I could never get rid of it though. I’ve got things my grandmother gave me, and my my mother, mother-in-law, the aunts, the kids, and just about everyone I’ve ever known.” So they hold on to it, unsettled and disturbed because they don’t know what to do with it. And since their kids don’t want any of ‘the stuff’, they worry over what will happen to it once they’re gone.

I wonder just why they do keep it. Maybe to depression era children, raised in hardship, physical ties represent security. Or perhaps they fear hurting or offending people, some long dead and gone. Or even that their memories will disappear along with ‘the stuff’.

What a contrast

I couldn’t help but notice a big difference between the two scenarios!

A flattened house and nothing left but the memories, with the freedom to accept that and move on. And large homes packed full of stuff, along with a lot of questioning. “What should I do with it? How did I even get it all? How could I ever move, and why can’t I keep my house clean? It’s all so much work!”

Which do you choose? Freedom or stuff?

Stuff that often complicates life and ties you down? Or a simple, less encumbered life? One of letting go of the past – while continuing to cherish memories. But with greater freedom to move, travel, try new things, or go wherever God may lead.

As for me I’d rather create new memories and embrace new experiences than be tied down to a bunch of stuff!

None of us can take our stuff along when we leave this world. But our memories? They can live on in the hearts and minds of those who’ve shared them and whose lives we’ve touched. And in the lives of all the new people we could meet by trading stuff for experiences!

So which will you cling to? Stuff or making new memories?

We can’t take things with us when we leave this world. But our memories can live on in the hearts of those who have shared them and whose lives we have touched.

Images: Woman & photo album by Dominika Roseclay | Couple & moving boxes by cottonbro studio | Graphic made on Canva.

23 thoughts on “But What About the Memories?

  1. In the midst of our first enormous earthquake we experienced in Christchurch a decade ago. When the house was still shaking and I thought we would lose everything – perhaps even our lives – one thought went very clearly through my mind “let it go”. As it happens we didn’t lose all our ‘stuff’ – a house yes which has recently been rebuilt – but since then I have downsized considerably and found living with less lighter.


    1. Wow Roz, that really was a lesson in letting go! That earthquake was terrible. Our Abruzzo region is also prone to earthquakes, especially the city of Aquila. I’m grateful that our immediate region more to the south seems not to be. But I do know that “life shaking” experiences can really do a lot for helping us see more clearly which things really matter and which don’t. We sure have found that when it comes to stuff less is definitely more!! Stay safe!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s remarkable to hear that older couple respond with such a calm understanding of what is really important in life. Our culture–especially in the States–is based on accumulation, acquisition. We define ourselves by what we have. How far from what the Lord sees in us! And memories are the God-given ability to remember what was, whether good or bad. And when the memories go, why would stuff satisfy? Thanks for this, Sheila!


    1. Thank you, Dayle! I was visiting my folks when I heard that on the news. And their marvelous attitude really struck me. You are so right that accumulation of stuff does not (or should not) define us. But we sometimes get lost along the way, it seems. It’s people, memories, and those special moments that make up our lives that really make up our lives – and really – even who we are. Those are the things that really matter and which will make the difference!


  3. This is excellent, Sheila! My husband and I are once again going through our “stuff” now that he’s retired. It’s a process. I was so thankful that my parents downsized before cancer and Alzheimer’s took them from us. They saw the future and didn’t want us to be burdened with a huge house of “stuff” to sort through. I want to do the same for our children. I also want to write more memories so that what I remember now will be recorded for our children when I am gone. Blessings to you, and thank you for this blog!


    1. Wow, that’s great that your inlaws did that! That’s something you don’t hear too much of. But it’s good that they held on to things so loosely, making them able to see how it would affect their family. And giving them the clarity of seeing that people are more important than stuff. I often think about what I will leave behind. I hope and pray that it will be fond memories of a person who cared, who tried to help, and was there for others. I think those are the things that will linger on long after all the stuff has become rusty, broken, or disappeared! I’m glad this post blessed you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mother had her master’s degree and then worked after we were all in school, which was unusual in that time. But at her visitation and funeral, all that was talked about was her great love and care for others. Story after story about how she helped people. I want that as well, like you do. Bless you!


  4. God will supply my needs as I have them. It was a growing point for me, allowing God to give us nine kids and trust Him to always provide what we need. My house doesn’t feel like a minimalist lives here, but I think that’s mostly because there are so many people in a small space that even the necessities add up. He always gives us more than we need, faithfully.
    This has been one of the worst years, and yet through God’s provision it has been one of the best years, and we would not have had the opportunity to see such generosity if we had not been through the valley.


    1. You’re so right Linda. It was a touch year in so many ways. But we can rejoice and rest in the fact that our God is faithful and will always continue to meet our every need. I can imagine how much stuff adds up with a large family, because even with just us two it does! So I can also see how it could be necessary to keep possessions reduced. But also, when we think about it – the stuff doesn’t really matter – it’s the memories and family closeness that really count. Those will continue to be cherished and passed on to future generations! I’m grateful that the Lord has shown such generosity to your family during this year. He has done the same for us and in such marvelous ways!! It’s almost beyond belief!! Take care and keep resting in him – which I know you do. Love and blessings, Sheila


  5. I love this! Throughout this year, I really focused on working towards a minimal lifestyle which included getting rid of stuff that no longer serves to create space for new memories. Too many items sitting around that were no longer needed and only being held on to for whatever reason. If only it was so easy to gracefully let go…but it takes practice. Blessings!


    1. Yes, you’re right. Letting to gracefully (of both things and people) does take practice. Perhaps that’s why that Michigan man was able to take all that loss so peacefully. But I think the bottom line is in knowing who our life is in and where our true treasure lies. Wishing you a happy new year and a good year of growing in whatever way our Father sees best for you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks so much for your comment. I actually saw that story on a local news channel last summer while in Michigan helping out after my mother’s hospital stay. That couple inspired me so much, that I just had to write about them.

    And I think we could all stand being more grateful for the many blessings we have, and praying for the ability to accept whatever God sends our way!


  7. You’re so right, Sheila. In preparing and packing boxes for a recent relocation, I found myself getting increasingly embarrassed at the amount of ‘stuff’ we had in storage that we never used. A major downsize later (benefitting friends and charity), it’s great to feel less encumbered.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It does feel good, for sure! And for me it’s been a huge help too, because we juggle life a lot between our 2 towns and suitcases for travel. Too much stuff just makes it all so complicated! I’m glad for you!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. That was such a good reminder that we can’t take this stuff with us to heaven so is it really worth keeping? Feeling inspired to thank God for all I have and to pray he lets me be as calm and graceful if I were to ever loose it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I actually saw that story on a local news channel last summer while in Michigan helping out after my mother’s hospital stay. That couple inspired me so much, that I just had to write about them.

      And I think we could all stand being more grateful for the many blessings we have, and praying for the ability to accept whatever God sends our way!


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