When Nate Berkus interviewed Dr. Maya Angelou, the poet, at her home in Harlem, she showed him many pieces of artwork and household items and graciously related some personal stories behind them. Dr. Angelou said she loves beautiful things, and what she displays has meaning for her. Nate commented that everything around her is so steeped, not in significance, but in connection.
As Nate says, it’s about meaning not money.
The truth of Nate’s statement was brought home to me much closer to home.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine’s mother died at the age of 102½, still lucid and a bit feisty and able to talk with her family to the very end.
At my friend’s home after the funeral, as part of her mourning, my friend told stories about her mother over the years, describing a women who had taught school for years and whose students regularly kept in touch, a woman who sang beautifully, a women who had outlived three husbands and loved her daughters equally but differently. My friend showed guests many family items in her home. One particularly striking arrangement to me was the way she had decorated a long hallway: She had photographs of her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents framed in an especially interesting way with their names written in calligraphy below the photos.
My friend’s home is so warm and inviting. It is a home filled with family, with love, with meaning.
One guest commented that she had so many things of meaning and connection to her family and my friend joked that a colleague of hers had made the same comment. This colleague lived with things of beauty, things she could afford to buy, things she felt she deserved. On seeing my friend’s home, the colleague said that maybe she would have to rethink her choices and start to add items with a personal connection.
Perhaps her colleague realized that the warmth of my friend’s home came from a connection to others, a sense of meaning. And that Nate was right: It’s about meaning not money.
Shouldn’t we all be like Maya Angelou, surrounded by things that mean something to us, things that reflect who we are?
Filed under: childhood home, family history, getting rid of stuff, important papers, sentimentality about things, share your stories | Tagged: childhood home, distributing family items, downsizing the family home, emotional issues in downsizing the home, family history, getting rid of stuff, getting rid of things, important papers, share your stories, talking about downsizing |