Inside the _____

Inside the Memory Keeper of Ann Cumbie Patterson

Ann Cumbie Patterson standing next to her storage unit in Cutler Bay, FL
Written by Heather Lopez

This is one of a series of stories we are sharing to show what’s inside CubeSmart. You not only get a peek inside our customer’s storage unit, but also a peek inside what is important to them. Thank you to Ann, customer of our CubeSmart store in Cutler Bay, FL, for sharing her story with us.

Ann Cumbie Patterson, a South Florida native, arrives dressed in black slacks, a colorful, patterned top, and a large purse filled with supplies & items for kids. She informed us that she has temporary custody of three of her grandkids, all 10 and under. Her son's in the Navy, stationed overseas, and she was stopping by the unit located at 19395 SW 106th Ave, Cutler Bay, FL 33157 storing his belongings, so she could grab some items for them.

She's got limited time nowadays between caring for her grandchildren and visiting her husband of 25 years in the hospital, as he recently suffered a stroke. However, Ann says she would like to downsize her units; she's got several. She goes through the process of downsizing every few years for the past 5-7 years but ends up getting additional units to store items from other family members.

Her son's leave from the Navy only lasts 3-4 days at a time, so he never has an opportunity to go through his things before going back. Her other son is a traveler and doesn't stay in one place too long; so he needs to store items in a unit as well.

Her Grand Uncle who passed at 97, left behind some memorabilia from WWII.  Hurricane Michael struck the homes of her 90-year-old father and her sister in Georgia, and she stores their salvaged personal items. Another sister visited and left things behind.

Ann says many of the things she stores have sentimental value and she's been reluctant to downsize because she feels that those family items are part of their memories. She's even taken on jobs to pay for all of the units. She realizes that she's become "the one that holds all of the memories."

She's lost a lot of family and friends as she's gotten older, which has caused her to hold on to the things she holds dear. But, she desires to clear out some of the items that are holding her back, tying her to a past that doesn't allow her to move forward. Ann laments, "Tough, this letting go is. I wish I had someone else to go through it. When it's out of sight, it's out of mind." She mentions reading a book from Dr. Wayne Dyer regarding "letting go, and paying others to do the things you can't do yourself," and wished she had the help of an organizational specialist in completing the sorting process.

She planned to spend the past two weeks sorting through the items; even picking up Marie Kondo's Tidying Up book to assist her. But, planning her godsister's unexpected funeral swallowed up her spare time. Ann says she was a workaholic prior to retiring, and now she still struggles to find time to do things for herself.

The first step in Marie Kondo's book is to sort through clothing that does not have sentimental value; sentimental items are saved for the end of the process. Ann says that she finds this first step encouraging because clothing makes up most of what she personally stores in her units. She's been tempted by sales at Marshall's, Ross or Goodwill, and picks up clothes that she sometimes never even wears. She says that in the past, she ended up donating some clothes to Christ Fellowship for victims of sex-trafficking, and she would do that again if she could manage to get through her clothes. The next step is books, and she says she has an entire set of encyclopedias that she is contemplating donating because "you can Google anything on your phone now." She's unsure of when she will have the time to get to the sentimental items; especially the ones belonging to other people, but she knows that it needs to get done.

Ann appreciates that CubeSmart is working with her to help her in reducing what she has and will easily transfer her when she is ready. She also says that this location has a community of its own and that sometimes a customer's only contact with the outside world is when they visit their unit. Even though she could pay her bill on her phone, she says she still comes in person because it's her opportunity to meet other people. She suggested that there be monthly workshops with a professional organizer, as well as a staging area that would allow customers to sort through their items with tables and hanging racks so that they could easily see what they have. She believes that this would be helpful to many more people than just her and that it would fall in line with the consistent support she already receives from the staff.

It's evident that Ann cares deeply for other people, and desires to both support and respect their belongings and their past.

We’d love to hear how self storage has positively impacted your life. Share your #HumansofSelfStorage story in the comments.

About the author

Heather Lopez

Heather Lopez, aka The Social Commerce Mom, is a 30-something married mom of two, a blogger and a marketing professional. She was born and raised in NY, attending both SUNY Stony Brook and CUNY John Jay. She now calls Orlando her home. In addition to her main blog, she also runs Bloggin' Mamas, I Love Family Travel, Happy and Healthy Mom, and over 30 niche Facebook groups throughout the US, fulfilling her passion to connect people.

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