This faded photo is the only one of a lamp beloved by the family matriarch. When she died no one wanted it. It was outdated and did not fit with the decor of any of the survivors' homes. But it was such a treasure to her, no one could bare to give it away .
Luckily there was an artist in the family who transformed it. Now it's a treasure in the home of the youngest generation.
Today's paper had a front page story about something I see all the time - people hanging on to more and more things as they age. Their houses get more and more crowded and they loose the serenity of their shelter.
If you are trying to help aging relatives keep their living space under control, try what I learned: be a witness to their life. Ask them the story behind each item - where they got it, how they felt. Often after having someone else hear their story, they are ready to let it go.
Then gently ask them who they would want to have it and offer to deliver it for them. You can suggest a relative or close friend, their church, a charity or school. It could be anywhere. I have found that most times just knowing that their possession will have a home makes it easier to part with.
This can be good for both of you. They get a more serene and often safer environment and you get the gift of learning more of their history. You might be surprised!