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Spring Cleaning Your Life – How Everyday Items Become Your Legacy

By Barry Kluger May 13, 2015 Mindset

I was going through boxes of folders the other day and found some great memories: photos, my “Polyester, The Movie” smell-o-vision card, news articles that I wrote or were written about me, an old I.D. bracelet that I gave – and got back – from girls in junior high school and more.

We keep these things to pass on to future generations. It’s up to them to decide, while we’re here, or, when we are gone, whether to continue the pass-down our legacy.

I don’t have such luck. Having lost my only child in 2001, my legacy ends with me. I don’t want to be pitied. It is what it is and it carries with it a great deal of sadness.

Some of the things I found have value to someone. All of my MTV memorabilia would make a great donation to a music foundation or music school. They could even auction off the items, at some point, to keep their schools running.

There are some signed first editions of books I have read. Those too would make a great contribution to a library or school, or, maybe for a fundraiser.

There are “mandated” time periods that force you to save old documents, tax returns, bank statements and the like. Those will go out with the trash.

I have also come across some items from my daughter Erica’s past; Snoopy, Paddington Bear, old sweaters with her perfume scent. These things may or may not be welcomed by her brother and sister, or, their children, when that happens. We’ll see.

Spring cleaning is a ritual where we part with the junk. It is also a time for looking at the stuff that may have been important at one time, but, over the decades, has become less important.

I saved all of my career documents, highlighting my successes (and some of my failures). Since I’m not a former President and, while I established a reputation in what I do, I don’t think there’s a library that wants them.

If I’m the first one to “cross the bridge,” the responsibility would fall on my wife – and that’s not a decision she needs to make. Then again, I’d never know if she threw out my favorite shorts from 1984.

We live in a home that is too big for us and when we decide to downsize, in a few years, the decision will made. I will have to clean house, but, my lifecycles, sadly, have made the decision for me.

There’s nothing to sell. A collection of Mark Twain books from 1906 are being shipped, as I write this, to my grandnephew in Florida. He’ll discover a whole new world when he starts reading these classics. Someone will want my mother’s old Mahjong set and the 16 place settings of vintage Wedgewood will go to my niece or nephews as they build a family.

What bothers me is being robbed of this legacy. No, it’s not fair. It’s life.

As I rummage through the boxes, mounted high in a bedroom, I think maybe, just maybe, I’ll hold off. I’m not ready and may never be ready. Maybe Tomorrow. Yeah, I’ll think about it tomorrow, for as Scarlett O’Hara said, “tomorrow is another day.”

Are there any items that you own that, while not worth a lot of money, you hope to pass down to your children or grandchildren? Which ones? What does “leaving a legacy” mean to you? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Barry Kluger is a 35-year communications and branding executive, having served in senior posts at some of the world’s most recognizable brands. He has been lobbying for bereavement leave for child loss to the FMLA.

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