How do you let go of a lifetime of treasures?

By Chicago 6 Min Read

I was admiring my granddaughter’s lovely nails when the urge hit me.

I slipped the ring off my right hand and slid it onto her finger.

It looked gorgeous and fit perfectly.

I purchased the ring decades ago at a jewelry store in the Caribbean. At the time, I felt like I had to have it to mark a dream vacation.

My granddaughter was stunned and asked me several times if I wanted to give away my ring.

I did.

Lately, I’ve noticed that my things sometimes feel like stones.

Still, I don’t want to toss these treasures in the trash. But really, how many mementos can we save?

The garbage bin is where most of our precious keepsakes will eventually end up.

I’m beginning to feel guilty about leaving the emotional task of getting rid of this stuff to my heirs.

I’m toying with the idea of doing what one of my neighbors did.

My neighbor invited me over out of the blue. Because we weren’t close, I didn’t know what she wanted.

After spending time exchanging stories about our lives, she ushered me to a china cabinet in her dining room.

After sharing the history of some items on display, she invited me to help myself to whatever I wanted.

My reaction was the same as my granddaughter’s — stunned.

My neighbor saw the look on my face and explained that she wanted to give her things to people she wanted to have them.

Now, whenever I am hosting a gathering, I think of this departed neighbor, and I skip the paper cups. I use her cherished glassware instead.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem packing up a bag of unwanted goods for Goodwill or the Salvation Army. But letting go of precious mementos or fashions I’ve worn just once isn’t so easy.

But there’s hope for people like me. I recently was walking by Fabulous Finds, a retail and consignment store in the Heritage Plaza Mall in Country Club Hills, when a beautiful lime-green cocktail dress caught my eye.

At this point in my life, I’m done with spending a lot of money on an event gown I’ll wear only once.

The shop’s owners, Kimberly Boozer-Mayfield and Charles Mayfield, have spent the past 15 years making it a lot easier to let go of things that used to bring us joy but now are just taking up space in a crowded closet.

The Mayfields started the store as a handbag shop. It evolved into a consignment boutique.

“I was always impressed by handbags,” Boozer-Mayfield said. “I remember going to my grandmother’s — she had all these purses. She couldn’t keep me out of her pocketbooks. I knew a lot of ladies who had designer bags, and, when they were tired of them, they would give them to me, and I would sell them to the next person.”

She believes her obsession with selling stuff came from her father.

“My father was a seller and collector of many things,” she said. “We used to call him a ‘thing-finder.’ ” He wished he could have one of everything. We would go with him to thrift and antique stores. So selling is kind of in my blood.”

Her passion has allowed others to let go of items they no longer want. Sometimes, women would bring in clothes with the price tags still on them, she said.

“Consignment is just one way of recycling and purging,” Boozer-Mayfield said. “Maybe the women are retired and no longer need the clothes. So they bring them in, and we resell the piece and pay them 50% of the sale price. They get to pass [their items] on to somebody to use and get paid in the process.”

I bought that lime-green dress and a pair of sparkly shoes to match.

But I intend to return to the boutique with a few pieces that are ripe for consignment.

It’s one way of letting go while holding on.

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