What Does Your Stuff Say About You?


What does your stuff say about you?

Our possessions do not define who we are, but they can tell a lot about us.

I love working with people because each person has a different story. As a family transition specialist, I meet interesting people. I have to admit, I love going thru their stuff.

You learn a lot about a person by the things they keep.

Take Mr. H.  Mr H

At age 94, Mr. H still walks tall and proud (I’m wearing heels in the pic) . He has his wits about him and he knows what he likes. We’d unpacked photos of him in his early years. He had been a very handsome young man.

Mr. H was concerned about particular items:

His Bible, one of the last things to pack and first to be un-packed. It was well-worn and he wanted it out for easy access.

Mrs. H’s stockings nestled neatly in her shoes. Her cosmetic bag kept on the vanity. Mrs. H had passed the year before, but the shoes on her side of the bed and lipstick and blush near Mr. H’s toothbrush made him feel at home –like she wasn’t really that far away.

Mr. H was insistent that his guns come with him (empty of course – he’s 94) . Still, Mr. H wanted them near. He valued his right possess them.

A model fighter airplane was displayed safely on a high shelf. It was a replica of one he flew as a pilot in the US Air Force decades earlier.

This precious collection didn’t hold significant monetary value, but these “things” were of utmost importance to Mr. H.

I went back a few days after unpacking to see how he’d settled in. I also wanted to ask him about one other of his prized possessions.

The letter (photo) was preserved on a little white board. It intrigued me so I hoped he would share the story behind it.

When we arrived, my husband and I heard big band music streaming thru his door.

We banged on the door hoping he’d hear us. Through the trumpet sounds and some other loud noise we heard his holler, “Come on in.”

He was expecting his son, and was surprised to see me and my husband. Mr. H remembered me from the move and welcomed us in.

He was obviously frustrated. He couldn’t get his TV to turn off with his remote. With an aggravated thrust, he pointed it towards the TV that competed with the sounds of the music.

Brad figured it out, while I explained that I’d enjoyed helping him a few days earlier and wanted to see how he was doing. The noise subsided.

He looked at Brad and gave him a quick nod, “Well now that my remote is fixed I’m doing better.”

I couldn’t resist, “Mr. H, I’m curious about your letter.

My letter?” He looked puzzled.

Yeh, the one you have mounted.” I picked it up from a shelf and handed it to him.

He held it, smiled and proudly told the story.

It was written by his father to his mother;

December 2, 1917.

His vision was not so good so we took turns reading it:

Miss Marie –My Dear Friend…

I just wanted to drop you a few lines to tell you that I certainly was glad to get to have the pleasure of being in your company Sunday night, and if you have no objection I would like to call at your house some time to see you

 -providing I don’t leave town pretty soon… Say be sure to be at church next Sunday night will you? Gee girl I think you’re a peach. Sure wish I could take a bite ‘a peach…!!

He was called to duty days after penning this first of many love letters.

Mr. H lit up sharing the story though his eyes looked off beyond the room we sat in.

Dad went and served. Mom waited for him. He fought and he made it back.”

He paused and smiled, looking back at us.

“Well you can figure the rest. They got married and had me!”

His eyes trailed off again, but this time he looked to the black and white photo of Mrs.H.

 “And here I am, and I got me my own peach.”  His eyes welled up.

Mrs. H had passed the year before. But his love for her was fresh. Keepsakes scattered around his apartment reminded him that one day he would be with her again.

In Mr. H, I found an admirable story. He didn’t boast a word, but his “stuff” told the story of his values and allegiance;

God, family, country.

We all have our stories, and often they’re connected to things.

What do your things reveal about you?

What stories have been passed down to you? And what stories are you passing along to others?

More then our stuff, our lives tell a story. We get to fill in the pages.

One way or another we all pass along a story. What is yours?


To Be Like Mrs D, An Exceptional Woman

The other day I told my husband, “I want to be like Mrs. D.” She’s an exceptional woman.

Mrs. D is a widow we moved this week. She was at the house when we packed her up. She was present but out of the way of our busy-ness.

“I’m going to be right here if you have any questions, but I don’t want to interfere with your work.” Once or twice she came out to see if we needed anything.

“Can I get you anything for lunch?”

Mrs. D didn’t have much in the way of possessions. She was close with her daughters who’d said she’d already given most everything away in recent years after her husband passed. She isn’t suffering dementia or depression; she’s just a giver.

Occasionally we’d find an undesignated item. We’d ask if she wanted to keep it, sell it or give it away her daughters.

“Oh I don’t need that.” She’d say

The next day as we unpacked and set up her apartment, we found a velvet bag with beautiful gold bracelets. It had been in a closet cubby.

The apartment didn’t have cubbies, so we placed the valuables on her nightstand.

By 2:30 we were ready for Mrs. D to see her new home. All we had left was to hang pictures and we needed her for that.

When she came in, Mrs D lit up, “Oh it’s wonderful!” She couldn’t believe how much care we had put into the details. Everything was set up, plugged in and personally suited for her.

She grinned taking it all in.

When she saw the velvet bag on the nightstand, she looked puzzled, “What’s that?”

My manager picked it up and handed it to her. “We weren’t sure where you wanted this.”

“Oh, I know what this is, but…” She opened the bag. Out slid a handful of gold bangles. “I haven’t seen these in so long. I thought I must have given them away. “

She put a couple on, looked up and smiled. “I really do love these. I’m glad you found them.”

We finished and our crew left to help another one of our teams on different move. I stayed to hang Mrs. D’s art and pictures.

I commented on the two beautiful watercolors she had. They were exceptionally nice pieces.

“There’s a special story behind that one you’re holding.”

Her daughter had painted the smaller one and scrapped it. Mrs. D salvaged it, painting over it to make something different.

I was shocked. These were beautiful pieces. “Mrs. D! I didn’t know you’re an artist!”

I recalled her daughter say she couldn’t believe her mom and given away her water colors. I’d thought she’d collected them. After all, she’d said, “They’re just things. I don’t have space for them. I don’t need them anymore.”

You have to understand, most people we move really struggle letting go of belongings. Understandably so; our ‘things’ are an extension of us. They’re connected to times, places and people in our lives.

I asked Mrs. D if I could take a picture of her with her artwork to remember her by. “I can’t wait to show my husband. I told him about you yesterday.”  mrs d - Copy

She looked at me, “Really, why?”

“Mrs. D, you’re an exceptional woman. You live well. You’ve invested in your daughters; they’re here for you. You don’t hold on to things. You’re Bible is worn and you keep it close. It was one of the last things to pack.”

Age couldn’t hide that she was a pretty woman. “You’re a sharp lady. Age agrees with you.

“Moving is stressful. but you’re not the least bit rattled. In fact, you’re graciously concerned for those around you.

“Thank you.” She lifted her chin in confidence, “I have all that I need because of Jesus.”

I smiled, picking up the last picture. “Yeh, that’s easy to see.”

“Okay Mrs. D. So where do we want this pretty little picture to go? I was thinking it would go nice over here.”

As we finished, I texted my manager; we were ready for the final walk thru.

“Mrs. D, Charlotte will be up in a minute to make sure everything is just the way you want it.”

She pulled out the bracelets and asked me to take a few. “They’re solid gold you know.”

Touched, I refused, “Mrs. D I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t do that. You enjoy those.”

“But you don’t know how much this means to me. You have really cared for me and I want to give you something.”

I assured her she had given me more than the bracelets.

“What do you mean?”

“Mrs. D, we see a lot of people move. We know how difficult it is too let go.”

“You have displayed peace, kindness, gratefulness and contentment with a joyful heart. You aren’t showy, but Mrs. D –you know how to preach.”

“You’re an inspiration. I told my husband yesterday, ‘I want to be like Mrs. D.’. That is better than gold.”

She squeezed my hand and Charlotte arrived.

I gave her a quick hug and took off to the other floor thanking God for His presence in His people.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.”  Luke 6:43-44

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law… Galatians 5:22-23

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright;   Psalm 92:10-15 (bold italics added)