When my grandfather passed away in 2004 my mourning soon turned into a yearning for his absence to be filled. Years later that desire has become an astounding joy of his memory. Grieving happens occasionally but I miss him always. My most fond memories of my grandfather are always vivid. My recollections create his silhouette porch chillin’ on 239 Pavilion Avenue with his favorite baseball cap, sitting comfortably in his wooden chair plopped up with pillows. I can also feel tokens of his character through photos, especially because he conveyed his emotions easily. When he smiled, it was for real. I can also remember the way he prepared his notable dish of Chicken and Dumplings. It’s disappointing that his original recipe has joined history as a long gone undocumented memory; no one will ever be able to recreate that dish, but I guess that’s what makes it legendary.
As my memory continues to jog, I am brought back to the pride my grandfather had in his keepsakes. He was a hoarder. I’m sure for some I’ve conjured up images of those crazy people from A&E’s documentary show. My grandfather was more of an organized pack rat, a hunter and gatherer of all things. It wasn’t exactly noticeable that he had a collection problem, but I always remembered my grandmother making remarks of his saving habits and this allowed me to see his subtle appreciation for the most random things. In many ways I have taken on this habit. It makes me uncomfortable to throw things away because I know I’ll never get them back. I smile because there are many ways that I am like my grandfather, that being the reason why my family appreciates my alias, “Tyjo.” Although I have defined myself as an individual, in retrospect, I am in many ways a replica of Joseph Lee Jones who was known as “Joe.”
I can admit that I’m a hoarder and it has taken me years to cope with that idea. I’m slowly getting better at learning what’s okay to throw away and what’s alright to save for another week only to continue to be challenged as a keepsake. I’ve never felt like being a hoarder has set me back at all or hindered me from progress, but it does take up a lot of space. It takes up so much that I sometimes forget that I could be replacing those items with new things. My closet is a storage for unnecessary items rather than a port for all things new.
Who would have known it’s possible to do the same with people? A conversation with a mental remedy aka friend allowed me to understand my capacity to develop strong relationships with individuals even when they aren’t mutual. And even when reciprocation does not occur, for some reason, I still allow that person to muddle in and out of my life. I never think about what could be if I shuffled through their rummage and recognized them as excess and simply just let them go. Through open discourse you’ll find that I clench tightly to even the little scraps that people give me — the little of themselves that they let me keep. The restrain I have on individuals like this makes my life way more chaotic than necessary. I’m learning you don’t get extra points for admitting that you’re not good at letting things go, but when you do a weight is lifted and no one’s even counting anymore.