Stuff

Has it really been over a month since I last posted? I’ve written several posts in my head but have been dealing with so much stuff lately, that I just haven’t found time to write them down. Work stuff, life stuff and well, just a lot of actual stuff like books, clothes, Christmas decorations and the accumulation of twenty plus years of living in the same house worth of stuff. Did I mention that I’m helping my 83 year old mother downsize and move to a senior community? Like I said, I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff!

I don’t think anything had been tossed since my mom and late stepdad got married over twenty years ago. We found books my late step-dad had when he went to night school for college in the 50’s or early 60’s. In fact, I think we found every book my late step-dad had ever purchased or been given as gifts. Heck, I found a few that were mine that I had lent him that he never returned. Enough books to fill up 31 boxes for donation and there are still more to pack up. I found magazines he’d kept for decades, binders detailing jobs he worked on during his career as an engineer and more golf balls than any one person could ever hit.

And then there were Mom’s clothes! I think she’s held on to any and all clothes she’s bought or been given during the past 20 or 30 years. Mom’s clothes filled over three closets in the house plus the basement storage area. Even clothes in sizes she no longer wears or are no longer stylish. Who knew she was such a clothes horse!

In the basement, I found appliances that no longer work but were kept anyway. Liquor in the bar that was twenty years old, the bottles covered with dust. VHS tapes kept but no working tape player to play them. File cabinets filled with old phone bills, electric bills and pamphlets for trips planned and taken years ago. We found plastic bags stashed in multiple places all filled with old cards, bills or scraps of paper with lists or reminders jotted on them. It’s overwhelming the amount of stuff!

Trying to figure out what to take, what to give to family members and what to toss has been overwhelming for mom too. It hasn’t been easy, this whittling down of one’s possessions. Deciding you only need so many plates is one thing but choosing to part with sentimental items of a life lived because you will no longer have the space to keep them is painful. So we’ve been focusing on what she will keep, like her wreaths for each month of the year that she will use to decorate her door, the family photos to decorate the walls and her Elvis collection.

With all the stress of dealing with the stuff, there have been moments that have made me chuckle too. One day after going through things, mom handed me a booklet and said “here, this is yours.” I looked at it. It was an illustrated handbook obviously from the 1960s but it wasn’t exactly mine, even though it had my name written inside in mom’s handwriting. It was from when she had taken me for my first swimming lessons and was a handbook given out to parents on teaching their child how to swim. For whatever reason, she’s held on to it through various moves for about 54 years! It made me chuckle. Why it survived multiple moves over the years but my comic book collection did not is a mystery.

All of this has me looking anew at my possessions thinking I should begin purging as well. At the very least, it will leave space for more yarn!

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