You Can’t Take It With You

For the past few weeks, we’ve been tackling the things that are very easy to keep putting off—updating our wills, health care proxies, and Power of Attorney forms. Ours were woefully out of date and a number of things have substantially changed since the original documents were drafted many years ago. Basically, we started over.

And since we’re getting to a certain age, we decided to plan and pay for our funerals. (“Pre-planning,” they call it. But really, isn’t it just “planning”? Planning for the final “cruise”?) We wrapped up THAT project last evening, and honestly, it feels kind of good to know that we’re making things easier for those left behind—clearing up questions, paying those bills, making our simple wishes known. That’s a big thing to check off of the perpetual to-do list.

But taking care of all of this made me think—what do I do with all of these pens?! My beloved collection. Ooof. That’s a tough one.

The tip of the iceberg

I feel like a good place to start is to put together some sort of catalog so that whoever is sorting through my stuff knows enough to not heave-ho the pens into the dumpster. That’s an admittedly big project that I’ve taken a crack at a couple of times and then run out of steam. Probably chipping away at it is the way to go, but like all of that legal and funeral stuff, the endurance needed to complete these tough projects is difficult to maintain.

I also think that selling them or giving them away before “zero hour” might be a good idea. But it’s hard to do. So many fond memories live in these pens—but maybe that’s exactly the kind of good energy that should be passed on to others. Spread the wealth and the joy while I’m still here to see the smiles. Yes, maybe this.

Or maybe I leave it all to chance. What will be will be. I won’t be here to know one way or another. I gotta say—I’m not really a fan of this one, but it is an option.

Fellow pen lovers, do you have thoughts about this? A strategy that I can borrow? A well-constructed plan?

The other day a friend said to me, “You have depressing appointments!” but I don’t really see it that way. I like getting this stuff taken care of. I like that it makes me think about that final adventure, but also very much about the present. A present that includes all of these special pens, my feelings scribbled into journals, my stream-of-consciousness letters to friends. A present that includes inky fingers and one more chance to make those first strokes on a blank journal page before the sun comes up. Maybe this is heaven.



8 thoughts on “You Can’t Take It With You

  1. Good point. Everyone wants to get to Heaven, nobody wants to die. When I am surrounded by my pens, it is heaven.

  2. My tentative “plan” is to give stuff away along the way… not wait till THE end. But I know it’s not an easy job. Probably 20 or 30 years before she died, my mom started putting little name labels on anything she had that someone (a friend or family member) noticed or complimented or remarked on. She often gave them to the person right on the spot. When she did die (at the age of 94), it was easy for us to go through her things and give them to whoever’s name was on the bottom.

  3. Hi Mary! Thank you for sharing these thoughts and reflections with us!
    This is something I have thought about a lot. Here is my current plan. My pen collection is much smaller than yours, and I can make a decision about each pen individually. My partner, daughter and grandchildren can choose first but I suspect most of the pens will still be left. My vintage Parker 21 will go to my brother. The pens that were gifted to me – if the giver is also a pen lover – will go back to them. A few will go to a dear friend who lives in another country and can’t get to pen shows easily. The rest will go to friends in the wonderful pen community with whom I share a love of writing letters. I will be taking a photo of all the pens, printing it, and putting it into my “when I am gone “ notebook; attached will be the name, email, and postal address for the designated recipient. Along with instructions on emptying the pen of ink before mailing!

  4. Thankyou for this thoughtful post Mary. It is commendable that you have got on top of these tasks that many of us put off, sometimes indefinitely! People in the fountain pen hobby are all at different stages. I have spent my life accumulating possessions but have reached a point where I am more mindful that it becomes clutter and that there is an attraction to decluttering. I have a long way still to go with this task, reversing a lifetime’s habits. A start would be for me to stop buying ever more pens:)

  5. My plan is to get either my niece or nephew into fountain pens so it creates an easy solution! My 12 year old nephew is starting to take an interest into fountain pens, so there is hope!

  6. It’s a maddening chore isn’t it! 30yrs of collecting pens, paper & ink… I can’t even begin to think about what I’d do. Oops, NEED to do. The funny thing is, everyone admires my pens but few know how to use them, least appreciate them. I’d prob bequeath a couple to my younger sister, just as a memento, but as for the rest?! Ugh. Anyone what +200 bottles of ink?

  7. I stumbled across your blog after many futile attempts to find out more about a fountain pen that’s been unexpectedly gifted to me in the mail. The pen is a Levenger that has facets — vertical ones, less than 5cm at their widest, running the length of both barrel and cap, with a medium nib and a screw-shut cap that’s quite hefty. It’s a plum color with marbling, the accents are chrome, and the grip matches the pen’s body. Feel free to email me directly and thank you for sharing your pen collection and reviews in the public realm.

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