The best kind of clutter

I recently went to an estate sale at my good friend Roberta’s lovely yellow house.

I smiled when I saw the shelves of books for sale. Roberta, who was a member of our book club, read nonstop. When our book group celebrated her 90th birthday, we decided to give Roberta 90 books. We all searched our libraries for books that we thought Roberta would enjoy and ended up with more than 100 books. Roberta was delighted.

Roberta never had the opportunity to read all those books. She had a stroke and died before her 91st birthday.

I couldn’t bear to look through the colorful clothes in her closet. Roberta loved to dress up. Beautiful at 90, she showed up at her birthday party in a stunning black knit dress, which ended right above her knees, showing off her tall black boots.

By the time I noticed the golf clubs in the corner of the bedroom, I was feeling really sad.  When she worked as assistant to the recreation director at Texas Instruments during the 1980s, Roberta’s game was so good that the recreation director “insisted” that she play on the TI men’s golf team.

But, before I left Roberta’s house, I was smiling again. I had visited with another shopper—Roberta’s good friend Beverly, who told me an amusing story about a camping trip she shared with Roberta.

I remembered how Beverly and I had crowded into Roberta’s house after her memorial service. We talked to friends from Roberta’s neighborhood, friends from her church, friends from our book club and friends from all of her volunteer jobs.

Furniture, china, books and clothes—many of Roberta’s belongings and treasures were for sale. Roberta had surrounded herself with beautiful things during her life, but those things weren’t what was most important. Roberta’s life was filled with the best kind of “clutter”—neighbors and acquaintances, old friends and new friends, good friends and best friends.


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