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A retired piano teacher must make sense of three generations worth of stuff in her home, much of it loaded with tragedy, before making a move to California.

Laura Leshikar

Piano Teacher / Retired

Transformation and Story Notes

A few years back, Linda had to have a new HVAC system installed in her attic.  A crew of workers hauled 3 generations worth of 'stuff' downstairs to fill three bedrooms, where it sits today, waiting to be gone through. Paintings, photo books, silverware, china, and other pieces.

Linda has suffered two immense tragedies in the last decade. She lost her son, Ivan Jr., in 2016 at the age of 35 to an accidental overdose, and in 2018 she lost her husband, Ivan Sr., after an 8 year struggle post-brain injury. She had been his main caretaker for the 8 years prior. After their son died she had to break the news to him multiple times before it sank in. 

The house is peppered with their belongings, she raised her boys in the home, cared for her dying husband in the home as well. 

She has a living son, who now lives in California with his family. She is now a grandmother to two beautiful girls out west, and has a new boyfriend in California as well. She is doing better now than she has done in years and is loving life. She feels a move to California is in the cards for herself in the next  year, and she is ready to start ridding herself of the generational keepsakes, even if that means opening up some rough memories.

As she has dipped a toe into sifting through her's and her family's past, she has been using a service called Artifcts, co-created by her neighbor Ellen, for which Laura is a pilot user. It is a service that 'gives you a digital way to organize stuff and capture the meaning behind objects.' Though a novel service, it has added additional steps to the decluttering journey.


Her son and daughter in law are surgeons in San Diego. They just bought their first large home, and Linda is ready to hand over things she’s been saving for him for years, but in reality, she knows they probably don’t want 99% of it. It's really up to her to go through the stuff first, record the importance with artifacts and see if her son wants it.

Also, going through artifacts of her husband's and son's lives, both tragically cut short, are sure to be triggering.

Stuff/Random Objects
  • The ashes of her husband and her son, both still in the black boxes she received from the crematorium.

  • Her wedding dress, still in a box, that she is afraid to open.

  • Her mother's prized dresses, things her mother wanted to wear to her grandson’s weddings but she never made it to them

  • Photo albums of the kids

  • Ivan Jr.'s flip-flops in his closet , plus a suit and a few jackets

  • The bookshelf that she's dubbed "The Happy Shelf", because it makes her smile. In David's old room.

  • The Rolex she gave her husband.


  • The boys childhood toys, as well as some of her husband's.

  • Her office is full of family photos and a scanner, she hasn’t really touched any of that since the funerals.

Who is getting their stuff?
  • Her son and his family in San Diego--maybe.

  • Other extended family

  • She would like to re-purpose her wedding dress, like have it turned into a pillow or other keepsake.

Their Thoughts on Death

Having lost her son and husband, Laura is no stranger to death. When she was at her saddest, she bought herself a drum kit to help her get through it. She loves to play.

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