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Friday, April 19, 2024


Cleaning Up

Cleaning Up

By Amy Patsch

Amy Patsch
Amy Patsch

It is still winter and the days are short so I am finally attending to a few projects that were waiting for the days when the sun wasn’t enticing me outdoors.

One of those projects is tossing out old paperwork with bits of yesteryear’s nostalgia intermingled. My husband, Neil, and I have lived in our current house since 1988, which has given us plenty of time to accumulate items that bring fond memories but which we won’t ever miss.

Inspired by a friend’s move into assisted living and the overflow of paperwork, photos, and whatnots that had not been sorted or tossed in 12 years, I was moved to review my own collection of memories.

For the years after I joined the Air Force and moved to the West Coast my father and I wrote to each other every week on Sunday evening and posted the letters Monday so I would be current on what was happening with my family and that my parents could follow what was going on in my life.

My father passed away after we had exchanged around 35 years’ worth of news – some handwritten and some typed. When he died I took charge of the collection my mother had kept of my letters to them and I put those letters together with the correspondence I kept from Dad. 3,500 multipage letters give or take a few vacations – that is a lot of paper.

At one point after I retired I thought I would scan the letters by date and share them with my nieces and nephews but that proved a bit elusive as many of the letters had the month and day written but no year.  And, truthfully after perusing a few, even I found them rather mundane. So now, 10 years after my father’s passing with barely a look to see if there was anything of value, those letters are bagged to be taken to the next community shredding day. 

Next up was my closet. It had already been sorted and adjusted to accommodate a retirement lifestyle with donations of the business suits and heels but what remained has been added to and it is time to thin the ranks. I decided I had to donate everything that I have not worn in a year or I had to wear it within the week to see if I should keep the item. I now have a bit more space in my closet.

So, what else needed sorted through? My stack of Bible Studies workbooks that I have done in years past but that I will never review again. Gone. But, in their stead I found that I must now buy books for my Bible study time.

I don’t keep a home library because I live within a block of the public library but I have discovered that the library isn’t keeping many books either. A lot of materials that I might want to check out are now in audio form only and I cannot hear well enough to listen to a book on tape. 

Plus, I freely admit, I love paper books. I want to turn the pages, to be able to put my finger in the place where I am reading, to lean back and think about what I’ve just learned. I roll over the words and contemplate new information for a minute or more and then I decide whether to take a longer break or to keep reading.  

So, I have started accumulating used and discounted books which I really need to pass on to others. Each book has a specific focus such as prayer, leadership, etc., and, as usual, not every one of my friends are interested in every book I find motivating. I just finished a set of wonderful books about the Evangelical Heroes through the ages. Truly they were interesting and insightful but now they must move on to someone else’s home.

When I consider the obstacles my friend had in downsizing and moving to assisted living, I wonder what do I do about the many photos? Hurricane Sandy helped with that as a few albums and all the high school yearbooks got soaked and tossed, yet there are more. Have I looked at these photos in 20 years?  No. They need to go as well – but maybe later…

In the midst of my cleaning I read an inspiring passage from Charles Spurgeon’s ‘The Golden Key of Prayer.’ “Lord, help us to be very loosely attached to all these things here below. May we live here like strangers and make the world not a house, but an inn in which we dine and lodge, expecting to be on our journey tomorrow.” Yes, I have decided I am willing to do this.

ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City. Email her at


Amy Patsch writes religious and faith-based opinion content for the Cape May County Herald.

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