Get rid of your ‘stuff’ so she won’t get rid of you

Tom Blake. On Life and Love After 50
Tom Blake. On Life and Love After 50

By Tom Blake

As we age, events in life such as moving in together or downsizing can create “stuff.” By “stuff” I mean unnecessary items we hoard that we are reluctant to get rid of: boxes of belongings, old photos, old silverware, dusty books and even items left by our parents that we seldom, if ever, looked at. Stuff is usually stored in attics, closets and basements.

For couples, stuff can be problematic, and even create a rift in a relationship, particularly when one person is neat and tidy and the other is a hoarder of stuff.

Last month, when I sold the deli I had owned for 26 years, 170 boxes of financial records had to be removed from the restaurant’s storeroom. Certain corporate records must be kept for seven years. I did not have room at my Dana Point home.

As a courtesy, Greta, my life partner of 17 years, let me store the boxes on the garage floor at her San Clemente home. I already had boxes of personal stuff taking up valuable shelf space there.

I could tell by the way she looked at the boxes and then at me that storing the deli stuff there would only be temporary.

After a few days, Greta said, “I love you. But, we need the stuff in the garage moved because we have guests coming and they need to park their car in there.”

I asked Ted Alvarez, my Laguna Beach CPA, if other clients of his have had similar problems. Ted said, “Of course, this happens often when businesses are sold or downsized. You should rent a storage unit for your deli records. It’s a corporate tax write off.”

So, that’s what I did. I went to Price Self Storage in San Juan Capistrano and rented a 10-foot by 7-foot space.

I spent several days sorting through the boxes, tossing some stuff out, repacking the boxes, marking and dating them, and then took them to the storage unit.

I did the same thing with some of my personal stuff stored in Greta’s garage as well. Four 50-gallon containers of trash were filled.

I learned that I should have started years ago to toss out unnecessary stuff I had accumulated. At least I didn’t leave the job for my siblings or Greta to have to do. Going through stuff that was significant in your life can be a monumental, emotional and time-consuming task.

Sometimes, we find precious items that are impossible to discard.

For example, in a file, I uncovered a 1975 photo that included June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash, holding his son John Carter, and me.

Cash Family and me  1976
June Carter Cash, Johnny Cash and Tom Blake. Photo: Courtesy

I also found a signed document dated August 26, 1996, from Johnny authorizing me to use his quote on the back of my first book, “Middle Aged and Dating Again.”

Johnny wrote: “In the 20 years I have known Tom Blake, he has become an authority on dating and relationships.”

In addition, I found a letter hand-written from my mom to my dad, postmarked June 17, 1946, when Dad was in Europe helping post World War II France get back on its manufacturing feet after the war.

Best of all, however, was when Greta saw her garage cleared out she gave me a big hug. Getting rid of stuff kept me in good standing with her.

Advice to stuff savers: Clear out your clutter. It could strengthen your relationship, and you will be doing your heirs a huge favor. Plus, you never know what precious stuff you might find.

For a hoot, check out comedian George Carlin’s YouTube video about stuff:

The age 50-plus singles Meet and Greet is scheduled for Thursday, March 26, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point. For information, contact the deli at 949-248-9008.

Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and former business owner who has authored three books on middle-aged dating. For dating information: To comment:

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