|Clothes, bags & boxes|
"I'd like to schedule a pickup for next Tuesday."
"Okay, what items do you have?"
"Right now, I have...
Ten 33-gallon garbage bags of clothes & shoes;
2 bags of bed linens & comforters;
4 large duffle bags of sports gear;
2 small duffle bags of knick-knacks;
5 used suitcases;
4 boxes of miscellaneous household items;
A box of old record albums;
A shower assist chair;
5 picture frames;
A flip-up Polaroid land camera;
A box of Russian military hats;
A scary Jesus poster;
And a box of Christmas decorations."
Heidi and I spent the day staging items to keep, give away, and throw away. We were women on a mission. On Day 2, we set up a yahoo mail account so that we could keep trust business separate from our individual correspondence. We were looking for a list of items requested by my dad's deceased wife's daughter. Not a step anything anymore, she had nevertheless shared a history with my dad. We were more than happy to find the things that would close this chapter for her...and for us.
Heidi braved the confines of the back yard shed to search for a box of Christmas ornaments. I sifted through rows of fragile glass figurines looking for her mother's Hummel. I found one that was similar to a Hummel, but really a knock-off. I wrapped it in one of my dad's old teeshirts and placed it into one of the new UPS boxes that we had purchased in BC. After spending two hours that morning in the dust-filled shed, Heidi found the Christmas ornaments in a closet in the house.
A close friend of my dad's stopped by that night and offered to haul everything over to the house of the mother-in-law of my dad's deceased wife's daughter. We hauled out several boxes of Christmas decorations, along with two marble-top tables that she had requested. We scoured the house and packed up anything that looked like it may have belonged to my dad's wife. Six boxes and two end tables later, we were closing the lid on things from someone else's past.
Things from our past...
3 small Post-Modern tables that once belonged to my grandmother;
A personalized jacket from a Best In The Desert race that my dad won;
My dad's blue terrycloth bathrobe and a new pair of slippers with the tags still on them (it was cold in the mornings);
A heavy lead crystal bowl that belonged to my grandmother;
2 small porcelain candy dishes that belonged to my grandmother;
A wooden nut dish that belonged to my grandmother;
And, a floppy camel that used to sit on the guest room bed at my grandmother's condo.
I hauled 7 bags of garbage out to the curb for the next morning's pickup.
Empty frozen dinner boxes
Empty snack-size chip bags
An empty bottle of French Chardonnay
An empty canister of anti-bacterial counter wipes
Decrepit kitchen plastics
Lime-encrusted aluminum pots and pans misshapen from years of use
Expired stuff from the fridge
Old hiking maps where my dad liked to walk his dog
Alka Seltzer, Bandaids from 1997 & other assorted items from under his sink
A flattened chair cushion (My dad bought two of everything, and I found a new replacement in the garage)
Oily, greasy rags from the garage
We had completed the first pass through the house, and we were on overload trying to maintain our focus. With brutal clarity, we sorted through objects that now had new meaning. Without him in the equation, it was a matter of assessment and memory as we assigned new values to his possessions.
The good news is that, for the most part, he did not collect junk. He held onto old things if they still worked. Everything that was his was functional and had a purpose. Even the girly calendar hanging in the garage helped him keep track of the days.
Thanks, Dad, for keeping a neat house.