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It’s been a few days since my Father-in-law passed away, and for the first time, I was allowed to go into his basement “inner sanctum”. It’s the magical place from whence came all sorts of built things over the years, including some hand-me-down tools and such. And of course, there were oh-so-many clock parts. He truly was Father Time, and I am sure we will inherit a few more Grandfather and other clocks.

When I brought home a small box with tiny drawers and some assorted hardware, it immediately took me back to a flurry of feelings about all the old tools and fasteners out there across time and space. I even started sorting my vast collection of random pieces, and have all sorts of containers and tackle boxes to put them in. The odd thing is that I feel emotionally and spiritually overwhelmed by it.

Perhaps it’s my wife’s state rubbing off on me, but there’s much more. All the mementos in that house resonated with a psychometric value, even if they were casual or incidental items. Part of me felt like a grave robber {shudder}, part of me like a hoarder holding back with some effort. It’s not that I coveted anything. I was glad many items would be cherished by various family, and others given to new homes via an estate or garage sale, or even donated to thrift stores.

But it was a much larger feeling for me. In my mind’s eye, I can see myself (perhaps from a former life or as in my dreams or both) with a huge, multi-level barn with countless drawers and boxes of stuff — old tools and other hardware. I’m not picturing it as a workshop, but more of a museum. Maybe not even a museum, but a holding place for eventual use over generations. Not even use, but objects to touch, and feel from the past — a conduit of personal energy from its owners over lifetimes and ages.

I must have said several times during our time there that I wish we had a huge farmhouse to put everything in. And in some way, I would make my hoped-for farmhouse more than just a home for people, but for all sorts of used things to be loved and re-loved. Antiques intrigue me most by the sense they have been a part of other people’s story — human meaning in a raw form — even if they were just acquired, sorted, and passed on with little conscious thought or specific purpose.

But now such things get thrown out en masse or recycled. I collect and use old screws and nails. I take turns using redundant hand tools for their own sake and treasure them even if I can’t remember where I got them. They all have a story, even if we can’t hear or tell it. Every piece has some life of its own.

So there I am, sorting jars of miscellaneous fasteners and parts, asking myself why. I usually enjoy it, but it brought me sadness and questioning. Why am I doing this? This isn’t the old days when everyone had a garage or basement full of such things and regularly used them. It is too easy to just buy what you need and get rid of the rest. Much of what I have will most likely end up tossed out upon my death.

I don’t mind being anachronistic. And I do make use of a reasonable amount of the items and scrap I hoard. But like some keepsakes, I don’t expect them to be passed on. And it’s oh-so-much stuff I don’t need to move from house to house during my lifetime. And do I need to keep resorting and reorganizing? Do I really enjoy it or is it a chore? Why can’t I just divest myself of most of it?

It’s more about feeling than reason right now. I always wish and hope to share my hoards and keepsakes with someone — a grandchild maybe? I desire there to be witness. I want to intimately share the materials of past days that will become forgotten minutiae, but not so for at least some moment if I can help it. I think that then, and only then, I will be able to truly let go.