By Sue Murphy
My daughter is moving to Ireland. Yes, the actual country across the big pond. She and her husband got a corporate transfer and they’re leaving in April and they’re taking my grandchildren, but we won’t talk about that right now mostly because I can’t do it without crying.
The thing I’m focusing on right now is…how?
A multi-hour plane trip with two babies, learning how to drive on the other side of the road, finding schools and pediatricians and someone new to cut their hair – it’s going to be a monumental task.
But, one monument at a time. The problem they’re facing immediately is what to do with all their stuff.
The corporate relo package will pay to ship up to 1,000 pounds of belongings, but how far will that go? Think about it. A saucepan weighs 5 pounds. Two hundred of those and you’re done, not that anyone needs 200 saucepans.
My daughter could probably buy one there along with sheets and towels and most other things. It’s not like she’s moving to the far side of the moon. But there are some things, personal things, that you simply cannot duplicate – the children’s cribs, their toys, Christmas decorations, Easter baskets. It’s a puzzle that’s been keeping me up at night and it’s not even my stuff.
My daughter will be gone for three years and then supposedly they’ll be back, so the preliminary plan is to leave some things behind in storage. But which things stay and which things go? When we were discussing the situation over the holidays, my other daughter thought a minute then said, “If you can get along without something for three years, why do you need it at all?”
Since then, I’ve been looking at my belongings in a whole new light. If I had to ratchet my stash down to 1,000 pounds, what would I keep? I have nine holiday cheese spread knives – snowmen and bunnies and turkeys and mummies and ghosts, and they’re all cute as a bug, but I don’t imagine the cheese would taste any different spread with a rabbit than it would with a snowman. Eight of them could go. Or maybe I could just spread my cheese with a regular butter knife. Sure I could.
I have 17 coffee mugs featuring pithy quotes or cartoon characters and again, I use them all, but only one at a time. One mug for me, one for Harold, wash and repeat. Why do I keep the others?
What would make my 1,000 pound package? What do I need that I could not duplicate in a new location? Photographs, but those could be digitized down to a few ounces. Music, pretty much the same. Books? I suppose I could ramp them onto one of those light-up tablet doodads, but that wouldn’t be the same thing at all.
A few nonessential items would get an emotional pass – my grandmother’s sewing rocker, my dad’s red plaid skimmer, the leather coat that is now too small that Harold bought me back when buying it was a financial reach. So I end up in a new country with one chair, a fashion-backward hat and a coat that doesn’t fit. Probably not good either.
I don’t know what my daughter will pick to pack for her 1,000 pounds but maybe I could sneak in there someplace. I don’t weigh much and I might come in handy helping to unpack the rest of her things…in Ireland. Across the big pond. An eight hour plane ride away. Oh dear, now I’m crying again.