Betty was my elderly cousin, second cousin…my mother’s cousin, on her father’s…cousin it is!
She died many years ago. She was not married, (she was married once, the gentleman tried to strangle her with a phone cord, which was sort of a deal breaker) and she had no children so my brother, sister and I went to her place to clean it out.
It’s uncomfortable, going through another’s belongings. Pulling things out of drawers or nooks or jewelry boxes, all the places people tuck their treasures – letters, diaries, jewelry, things passed to them from a cherished friend or family member. That memento from a trip of a lifetime, something that reminded them of an amazing time they had someplace magical. Betty had all of these things among her socks and hairpins, but there was one clear majority of knickknack.
Betty had an astounding number of cat things.
I don’t mean things for actual cats; she did not have one, and didn’t as long as I’d known her. No, I mean things with cats on them, decorative plates, clothing, pictures. And dozens upon dozens of cat figurines. Cats made of glass, ceramic, wood, china, plastic, pretty much any material that can be manufactured or harvested, there was a cat made of that item.
I wanted to do something with them, something to honor her in a way. I didn’t know what yet, but I tucked the cats into a bag and brought them home.
Finally I made this, which I call Requiem for a Cat Lady.
I wonder sometimes, what will happen to my own treasures when someone goes through them? I’ve mentioned before about my huge collection of a certain mouthless white Kitty (still don’t want to get sued) what happens to her? What about my diaries, and the poetry I’ve written all my life? What about the treasures collected in my travels?
I think these concerns are very human. The things we have are meaningful to us. They tell a story of a life that mattered. My life, your life, we were here and we mattered.
We also leave a legacy that does not involve things. Our possessions can certainly be reminders, as with my cousin’s cat figurines, but really, they aren’t forever.
But this is not sad. Whatever one believes of an afterlife or lack of, once you’re gone these things are no longer your concern. So why obsess?
What kind of legacy would you like to leave? What would you like people to say about you? Will they smile gently at the memories? The funny stories will outlive us, if they are told. In reading this article, you know a few tidbits about a woman you have never met, and if you should tell someone say, the phone cord incident, the memory of this unique lady goes on!
For me, the legacy I would like is my friends and family hearing something deeply dark, absurd, inappropriate, and saying “Oh man, Sue would have found that hilarious!”
Also they must take care of my Kitty.
My beautiful mouthless white Kitty.
Anyone who knows me, knows that.