Almost Everything Must Go
Over the last few months I have been slowly cleaning out mom and dad’s house. After close to 55 years of accumulating life’s possessions, there were many layers to dig though. Because of this, I look at the contents of homes a bit differently now. When entering any home all I see is clutter. Clutter that one day will have to be dealt with. No matter the reason for emptying a home, in the end people will have to deal with it all.
It took some time to get motivated to start this undertaking, even though mom had been out for awhile. Then she had to be moved a one more time after about three months. I just wanted a little break from moving more furniture, clothes and wall hangings. All the possessions that makes a home.
At first I did a bit here, a bit there. One of the first items to go was the food. That was given to single mother. After that I slowed down. Then over the course of the winter I really picked up the pace. It started when I was able to sell dad’s table saw to a co-worker. He came by, picked it up and left with many other things. The refrigerator was an impulse buy. So was the rope, ax, few other hand tools and a small air compressor. The following week I sent out an email in my office letting everyone know I had a house and its contents to sale. For the next few months, people came by and bought many things. Bless all who did, I am eternally grateful.
Knowing this could be an overwhelming endeavor, I decided to start going down every Saturday morning for only a few hours. After that off to see mom. Some days I would become a bit emotional looking about my childhood home slowly emptying out. I knew it was for the best and that it had to be done.
Along the way a few interesting finds where made, creating questions that will never be answered. For example, why did mom and dad take a few two pound bags of dirt back and forth to Florida? Did they remember putting close to $1000.00 in an envelope and then putting that envelope in a box of old hats? Dad, why did you keep over one hundred unused paint sticks? Why? An unopened waffle maker and cordless drill, really? Seriously?
After pulling these paint sticks out of their hiding place, I thought that is it, I'm out of here until next Saturday. So I tossed them into a trash bag and went to see mom. Dad acquired many hats over the years and I'm sure he never got rid of single one. So when I found a big box of old hats I was just going to dump them into a trash bag. Something stopped me. I decided to go though them by hand. That is when found the envelope of money. After that I went though everything before tossing it. In their closet I found a shelf of more old hats. This collection was an archaeological dig. I could see the decade the hats came from. I could easily tell the bottom layer was from the 1970’s. I believe I could see the dividing line between the 1980’s and the 1990’s. One useful item I found was the Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass. Since my eyes are long past their prime, I took it to work. Once again I can read the fine print on engineering drawings. A few other older co-workers have also found it handy.
All these earthly material goods that made this home, created this home, enriched this home must now be disposed of in some manner. I was fortunate to have a very supportive family who allowed me to clean out it as I saw fit. Selling what I could, donating and tossing out a many trash bag. This enabled me to complete one of my many life's labors.
So, yes to me it's clutter as far as the eye can see. As cold and uncaring this sounds, it is a reality we all may face, most likely sooner then expected. That was the case for me.
Over the years since Kath and I moved back near to mom and dad, she asked me a few times if I wanted to buy their house after they were gone. I always said no. That was their house. I just grew up there. I wanted my house, our house. A place where we would live, have our a life together and fill it with our clutter. Growing old in our place as they did in theirs. I will always have their home, nothing can take that from me. Yes, it is now cleaned out and sold. Everything is gone but the memories will always remain.
Doug Thornhill (dct)