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The Impossibility of Downsizing

The Impossibility of Downsizing

by guest blogger, Cherie Bombell

old photos in a box  Downsizing. A wretched word. It’s like fitting an acre of wheat into a breadbox; days of grinding down, sifting and getting rid of the chaff yet it will never fit into the breadbox. Diminishing a five-bedroom home into a two-bedroom apartment, if one possesses a soul, is impossible!

“Sorry, nobody wants your parents’ stuff.” Forbes Magazine heralds. People will advise, “Be ruthless! Get a rubbish skip and fill it up with anything you haven’t used in a year.”

Sure, easy for you to say.

If objects were truly inanimate, and disuse were the only measure, it could be done, but those ‘things’ possess memories and family history. Great Auntie Vi’s silver teapot sparks a story from my mum and introduces her beloved aunt to me. She’s the woman who spent her life moving around the world (with her piano) because she lived on almost nothing to save every penny for her adventures. She also outlived three husbands who tumble into Mum’s story with their own escapades.

The delicate but cracked pink, scalloped saucer sitting beneath a matching, tiny jug speaks to the kindness of my grandmother’s friend who broke up her china set to bestow these precious pieces on my mother 70 years ago.


The silver Champagne bucket my grandfather brought home to celebrate my mother’s birth more than 95 years ago reawakens the joy he felt that day.

Many of the treasures I’m encouraged to be rid of connect me to my heritage. When I hear stories about Auntie Vi, I better understand myself. I recognise the DNA my daughter and I have inherited that gives us wanderlust. I feel the kindness of a friend and I picture the grandfather I never met as a cheerful, generous man. These ‘things’ colour my own story with empathy and belonging.

Great Auntie Glad was hearing and speech impaired but a gift from a suitor, a silver art deco shoehorn engraved with her name, tells me she was more than a woman with a disability; she was a woman whose heart was to be won.

A couple of my great aunts were spiritualists. One would wake in the middle of the night and commune with the hereafter in a handwriting not her own. From their story, I appreciate my episodes of spiritual ‘knowing’ and understand myself better.

So I skip the skip and wrap up my treasured memories so that one day, I may be connected to my offspring generations down the line. With every layer of bubble wrap, I hope I prove Forbes wrong, and children will again cherish the gems their grandparents once held dear. And, possibly, I will bond with mine across the decades through a simple silver teapot. If not, I will return to haunt them…Great Auntie Dolly spoke to the spirits. I’m sure I inherited a part of her DNA too.


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