Friday, April 29, 2016

Pieces of the heart

by Liz Flaherty

When my mother-in-law passed away recently, her family began the bittersweet task of going through
the things she’d collected in her lifetime. It’s an exhausting job for those who are doing it, and I have no doubt my sisters-in-law have both laughed and cried as they’ve sifted and decided. Save this, toss this, give this picture to whichever grandkid was in Grandma’s lap. It reminds me to be ever more vigilant in my own downsizing efforts.
          Except for two places.
          I have a side-by-side refrigerator in the kitchen and a smaller freezer-on-top one in the office (the beer-and-soda-fridge.) It is on the front and side surfaces of these appliances, thanks to the miracle of magnets, that the seasons of my life are displayed. It shows the growth of grandchildren, the purchase of a car, snapshots with friends, symbols of my faith, appointment reminders, even the evolution of my writing career.
          There are certainly other things I love having. Since I sew, I have a stash of fabric that qualifies me for 12-step meetings. I have a shelf-of-pride of my published books and more shelves—even though I’m on my second Kindle—of books of my reader’s heart. I have too many clothes I will wear again someday. (Yeah, right.) I have letter jackets, prom dresses, a beer can collection, and the occasional box of trophies my kids have neglected to take home and put in their own attics.        
  I read where someone—my apologies because I don’t remember who it was and can’t give her credit—sets out a tote and puts one thing in it every day to be gotten rid of. When the tote is full, she takes its contents to Goodwill or Salvation Army. It is my intention to do the same thing, but the items on the refrigerator stay. They are, like the books we are so proud and happy to write, pieces of the heart.
          My second Heartwarming, Every Time We Say Goodbye, is out this
month—and in selected Walmarts in May. There’s nothing more exciting than a new book. I hope you like it—and I hope you always have magnets on your fridge.

28 comments:

  1. Awww...I wish I had a fridge like yours, Liz.

    Congratulations on and best wishes with your new release!

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  2. Liz, I love to display our life on the fridge, too. I've heard this a mostly American thing and they don't do this in other countries? No idea if that is true. I like the idea of putting items in a tote bag each day to be given away. I think I will try this.

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    1. Hi, Carol. I'd never thought of it being an American thing. Even though I do straighten and/or clean mine once in a while, I must admit I have a picture on mine that my granddaughter drew when she was five. She's 25 now, so I love the history part of mine.

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  3. As someone who just took 4 boxes of books and 2 tote bags of cookbooks to Goodwill, I am liking the idea of a bag to put one item a day in. My fridge used to be my rogues gallery, but now I have a corkboard in the kitchen with grand-kids photo accomplishments. I think I'm part squirrel. What can I say?

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    1. I haven't been able to give up any cookbooks yet, but I need to! A corkboard is a good idea, but I don't have any wall space in the kitchen, so the fridge remains "rogues' gallery." And my rogues are growing up way too fast!

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  4. LOVE this post, Liz! Reminds me of sifting through my own mother's collectables after her passing...and that although I, too, have been 'culling,' I'm protective of grandorable artwork and photos that cover our fridge doors. (Ran out of space years ago, and framed a bunch of the artwork to hang on the bulkheads above the kitchen cabinets.)

    Looking forward to reading EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE! I'm tickled pink to share your May 1 release date! Wishing you a wonderful weekend, my talented friend!

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    1. Oh, what a good idea--the framing, I mean. Glad to share space with you, too, Loree.

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  5. It has to be so exciting to see your book in Walmart next month.I also have magnates holding notes and pictures on my refrigerator. However, when that became too full, I discovered my outer door is metal, so that’s where I place things I must take care of, such as bills or cards for the mail.

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    1. I'm hoping I can get to one and see it in person. The closest one is a couple of hours away--sigh. We have a metal door, too--a great overflow place!

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  6. Love this, Liz! Ages ago, I bought magnetic photo sleeves and the used to be all over the fridge. Inherited a new fridge from one of the other sets of in-laws, but the front isn't magnetic - just the sides. Cramps my style, but it's a wonderful refrigerator. I love photos and treasures in the kitchen because, despite my dislike of cooking, when I'm not writing, I'm always there. Congrats on the new book. Look at you go!

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    1. I'm in the kitchen, too--it's my favorite place in almost any house. I think Duane might like having a non-magnetic front on the fridge. :-)

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  7. Ah, Liz, your family and my family are going through the same thing. And like you, my closet is full and the refrigerator is crowded

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    1. Yes, we are, Mel. My thoughts are with you.

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  8. I love the idea of one item per day in a tote. I'm going to try that. Looking forward to reading your new book!

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I'm embarrassed that I haven't started doing it yet!

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  9. The day we went through sister Kate's things was full of smiles and tears and smiles through tears. The tote bag is a great idea! I got rid of a bunch of stuff when we redid our kitchen and I haven't missed any of it--while I was deciding what I wanted to new kitchen to "feel" like, I read an article online by a kitchen designer who said that refrigerator magnets and refrigerators covered with stuff are tacky, tacky. I call BS on that! Fridges are part of life and that should show! One of my most treasured things on my fridge at home and at the lake are my Liz Flaherty magnets!

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    1. Absolutely BS. It's the wallpaper of our married life and I like it a lot! And thank you, Ms. Nan--I do believe Nan Reinhardt has place of pride on my fridge, too.

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  10. I love the one item a day idea. Too much stuff, but I always think I might use/wear/want this thing. I must learn to be more ruthless.

    I loved Every Time We Say Goodbye - great characters.

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    1. Thank you, Beth! And, yes, ruthless is the right word. I'm not good at it, either, but I hope to get better.

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  11. That tote idea is golden. I'm going to try it. Congratulations on the new book!!

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  12. I have way too much stuff. Last week, I threw a few things away. ARG my husband found them in the trash and returned them to the counter they'd been collecting dust on for three years.

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    1. Lol. Oh, no. That's a scene straight from a sitcom!

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  13. We've begun the purge at our house. I tend to hold on to things believing that there will come a time I will need said things at some point in the future. I have learned that is rarely true. So we filled a garbage can full of things and it was so freeing! I do have other little things and momentos that I can't imagine ever parting with. That handmade card for my husband's birthday that my son made at daycare when he was three? Yep - held on to that!

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    1. I still have things that will stay with me always. One of my favorites is the horse-shaped clock in my office, which my son made in 8th-grade shop class. Sometimes looking at it nearly brings me to tears because, after all, he's 42 and has an 8th grader of his own, but of all the privileges in my life, being a mom is top of the list.

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  14. Liz, I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Your post is so moving and the sentiment 'I hope you always have magnets on your fridge' is absolutely beautiful.

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    1. Thanks, Rula, and good luck with your new release!

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