Roxanne Tellier – The Things We Leave Behind


The battle continues to rage over what stays and what goes in the purging of my suburban bungalow. And if you think you’re sick of hearing about it, try living it. It’s mindboggling. It’s the longest and most brutal ride ever.


Sorting out what to keep and what to lose is killing me. It’s like an endless and unfunny WWF wrestling match against the worst villains in history. For every step forward, there’s another back, like being rebound clotheslined, after a series of knife edge chops and shoot kicks.


family guy toyThere’s been blood, sweat and tears over every vanload that leaves the house. There really have been instances where I’ve shouted at someone trying to help that they can pry this Family Guy collectible out of my cold dead hands. Yes, I’m that crazy.

But in the days when I’m not so crazy, when I’m rational about purging the household, there are moments when, like a ray of light, I understand what makes some things more precious than others.

People cannot be replaced. Memories are not reliable, as they are always tinged with today’s emotions. Sorting through old love letters is bittersweet. Photos of those long gone, the newspaper clippings of births and weddings and deaths, they all turn the knife. We never know when the people we care about will disappear from our lives.  So many times I’ve thought what we’d do, “the next time we get together,” only to never have a next time.  “Precious and fragile things need special handling”

Some of the bits and pieces I treasure are all that remain of loved ones that walked beside me for a time, and then were gone. In the twenty eight years Jody and I 1976since I lost my sister, most of her personal items have been disposed of, but I keep a baseball jersey that she used to wear. It’s lovingly folded away in a bottom drawer. And of course, I have photos. Still, I was catapulted back in time yesterday when I came across lyrics to a song, hidden in a dusty box of papers, that she and I had written together in ’76. It’s a very silly song, but we were very silly young girls.  


In that same box, I found a poem my mother had written about my teenaged years.  What else might I find, under the stairs, hidden in her old filing 4 gens at weddingcabinet? I haven’t had the heart to unearth my mother’s writing, the entire body of her work, all neatly filed away, just as she left it. It’s almost as if I can pretend she isn’t gone, if I don’t re-read the decades worth of her wonderful poetry and jokes, the short stories and rough drafts.  

Tiverton bear beerAnd then there are the foolish things that remind you of family members that are still here, but far away, either physically or mentally. My aunt’s physical body is in a hospital room in Ottawa, but her love and generous gift of artistic appreciation lives on in my book shelves and in my writing. I see my daughters and grandchildren too rarely, but my annual Christmas calendar has pictures of the children that I can enjoy every month, and there’s an oversized Tiverton Bear beer tin that reminds me of Cara’s love of all things rural. 

This purging is painful. I feel simultaneously too young and too old to be deciding what I have to shed to begin the next segment of my life. To an outsider, it’s very simple; back up the 1-800 Got Junk truck and load ‘er up.  Toss a match into that basement, and let it all go. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll never miss when it’s gone, they say.

hobby lobbyAnd I’ll agree with some of that logic. There are most definitely things fit only for the bin or donation, and tons of stuff that I want to give to people that share a passion … tho’ damn it, it seems I’m a little too passionate, as I have more hobbies, crafts and recreational items than a superstore. My collection of collectibles is out of hand. I am the Queen of Plastic Junk.

In purging, in downsizing, what struggles to be born is a new vision of what the future will hold. Since we can’t know what tomorrow brings, we want to protect ourselves from loss, cushion our minds and bodies from sharp edges with the padding we’ve gathered through the years. It’s hard to stop believing that more is always better.  

make 10 the top number Spinal

Lawd knows I’m trying, one bit of crap at a time. Sorting the useless from the useful, and the pretentious from the precious. Forcing this old brain to consider that what’s to come will be better than what’s gone before, while keeping a tight hold on the one thing that really matters – the people we love and have loved.

I don’t see myself ever travelling very light – that’s just not my style. A little lighter backpack would be nice, though. 


“The ending of an era and the turning of a page. Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here.”



Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’.

The Bobcast

2 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier – The Things We Leave Behind”

  1. Well said….there are so many of us reaching that stage in our lives. My eldest, thankfully, has been purging much of my late husband’s stuff for me….setting aside what he knows I need to see…but 1974 receipts!! It’s a life in progress….

  2. it is indeed! 😉 I got to tidy up my mum’s and my sister’s estates, and I refuse to do that to anyone I care about, so – it all must be sorted. But dang … it’s hard.
    At least my receipts only go back to the 90’s! 😉 Play, magic shredder! 😉

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