Sunday, October 12, 2014

Transitions: Moving Mom's Home

     My Mom has been in an assisted-living facility for something like six months now -- a nice one, very apartment-like, as much independence available as people can handle and help if needed (food options range from a dining hall to cooking in a nice little kitchen in your rooms to meals brought to you, for example).

     Meanwhile, she's had a house full of stuff, two lifetime's accumulation, hers and my late father's, plus whatever the three kids had abandoned.  Clearly, the paid-off house needed to be turned into money, but the things in it--  They needed to be turned into a much smaller bundle, memories distilled down, the silly decorated-brick bookends my sister made at age 12 going to Mom's new place, the massive, multi-level Victorian-style iron plant stand I gave her a decade ago leaving with me, Dad's assorted tools to my brother, sewing items culled and sorted -- some staying with Mom, some to granddaughters (Sis and I having accumulated our sewing tools and supplies ages ago). And so on, and on and on, with the bulk of the work falling to my siblings, my own employment being a bit short on days off just now.

     Even so, it is surprisingly affecting and I found myself misty-eyed and/or morose several times yesterday, remembering earlier times.  That house was never my home, but it was a refuge a couple of times, once for several months between jobs, and later after I broke my knee and the doctors wouldn't let me go home alone until I was out of the leg-immobilizer.

     And today, a little more to do up there.  Then I'll leave my set of keys and.... No more.  My brother and the new owners are closing the sale Tuesday.  It's an ending of sorts and a hard lesson to learn: it all comes down to this.

13 comments:

Brigid said...

That's sometimes a heart rending chore. We have started weeding some things out to charity while Dad is still living there, just "stuff" that my Mom and Step Mom squirreled away that holds no value sentimental or otherwise for him. Still there will be a ton.

It was the same with my brothers house, but we kept finding firearms squirreled away (no young children visiting there). And I do NOT want to know why he a live flaregun in the nightstand.

Roberta X said...

I'd think that might be comforting to have. --But I sleep with a light on.

Ruth said...

My mom and her siblings have been doing that same chore with the remains of their parents' belongings. Thankfully my grandfather had been putting alot of effort into doing so himself as they moved into assisted living for my grandmother's sake. But there was still a frightening amount of stuff. But with both of them suddenly dead in the space of 4 months there was still alot to go through.

Shermlock Shomes said...

I recall my mother saying that when she cleared my grandmother's home prior to sale after Grandma moved into assisted living, Mother had to go through all her books as Grandma had a tendency to squirrel away money 'in libro'.

NAVIGATOR said...

ROBERTA !

ITS NOT JUST STUFF-- ITS STUFF WITH MEMORIES OF SHARED LIFETIMES ATTACHED STUFF THAT THE PERSON THAT YOU CARED FOR VALUED AND THATS WHY YOU ARE THERE

ITS HAPPENED THAT I WAS ELECTED A NUMBER OF TIMES TO THE TASK OF CLEANING SORTING INVENTORYING PACKING TRANSPORTING AND SEEING TO THE LAST REQUEST OF "MAKE SURE THE RIGHT PEOPLE GET MY STUFF" THAT COMMISSION WAS TASKED ONLY HOURS BEFORE THE DEMISE OF AN OLD FRIEND AND YOU PROMISED YOU WOULD TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY TO HONOR THEIR WISHES - THAT GAVE THEM SOME MEASURE OF COMFORT AND I SPENT THE NEXT THREE YEARS DISPOSING THE CONTENTS OF THAT HOUSE--IT WOULD HAVE GONE A LOT QUICKER HAD THE FRIENDS AND RELATIVES COOPERATED

PROVIDING A GOOD AND LOVING HOME FOR A 25 YEAR OLD SIAMESE CAT NAMED SINGHA THE MAGNIFICENT WAS A FIRST PRIORITY

I MADE NO VALUE JUDGEMENTS AS TO WHY THEY COLLECTED "STUFF" WHETHER IT WAS LOTS OF BOOKS
JOURNALS MATCH BOOKS 78 RPM RECORDS COOKING AND BAKING GEAR OR
ORDNANCE (25,000 ROUNDS AND NUMEROUS PIECES OF VARYING CALIBRES ORIGINS AND VINTAGES WERE SAFELY REMOVED FROM A VERY SMALL APARTMENT WHICH WE FOUND IN SOME VERY TACTICALLY INGENIOUS HIDING PLACES) YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH YOU KNOW "PEACE THROUGH SUPERIOR FIREPOWER" "BE PREPARED"

NOTE TO BRIGID- VERRY'S PISTOLS BOTH THE 25MM AND 37MM ARE QUITE USEFUL SIGNALING DEVICES THE ORIGINAL MODELS WERE SUBSTANTIALLY CONSTRUCTED DEVICES WILL LAST SEVERAL LIFETIMES YOUR BIG BROTHER NO DOUBT HAD HIS REASONS--CAN YOU STILL GET "VERRY LIGHTS" ? AS THEY WERE CALLED -PARACHUTE FLARES AND VARIOUS COLORED METEOR FLARES IN RECENT YEARS PLASTIC FACSIMILES IN 12 GA HAVE SHOWN UP NOT THE SAME

MY COMPLEMENTS TO YOU BOTH IN CARRYING OUT THIS IMPORTANT MITZVOT (A BLESSING AND A COMMANDMENT AND GOOD DEED) THEY ARE NOT EASY

I LEARNED A LONG TIME AGO THAT THIS TASK REQUIRES SOME STAMINA AND DETERMINATION TO ACCOMPLISH AND YOU WERE CHOSEN BECAUSE YOU WOULD HONOR YOUR FRIEND OR RELATIVE'S LIFETIME WITH THIS LAST FAVOR SOMETIMES THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE TO SEE TO IT

The Freeholder said...

I've been there as well. The thing is that your memories are all tangled up in the physical items. When I had to clean out my parents' home--like you, one I'd never lived in--I had the same reactions. So a lot was boxed up and allowed to sit for a year or two. That let the loss work its way through the system. After that, I could detach the memories from the things. That let me keep the truly important and get rid of the rest. Thank God, or I would have had to buy a bigger house.

rickn8or said...

BTDT. It's no fun, especially when you have to do it by yourself with an immovable deadline.

Robin said...

This is a very difficult task for so many these days.

But I am glad that assisted living is working for your mother.

Don M said...

My father had to clean out his mother's apartment after she died suddenly in a car accident (end over end 5 times, and no, she wasn't driving).

I felicitate you on your approach. It makes more sense. For some questions though there are no good answers. It takes but one lesson to learn to be miserable.

Kristophr said...

Brigid: "And I do NOT want to know why he a live flaregun in the nightstand."

You never know when there might be VC in the wire.

Wouter de Waal said...

Aye. It's an end us collectors and / or accumulators have to contemplate.

Nobody's going to appreciate my stuff.

Roberta X said...

So true, Wouter. I hope to begin cataloging all my accumulated radios, books and whatnot so it can be easily put up for auction after I'm gone -- otherwise, the task would be much too daunting for whoever has to go through it all.

Joe Huffman said...

Mom died almost two years ago and my brothers and Dad are still sorting stuff. Dad won't be around much longer and there will be a lot more stuff to go through. He has lived in the same house since 1969. And the previous house was only a few hundred feet away so not much routed to the dump in that move.

I've been through enough moves in the last few years that my stuff can be sorted into "books", "bed and nightstand", "gun stuff" and a few "memories". The books and memories will probably end up in recycling and a dumpster and the gun stuff will be distributed to the kids. Barb will probably send the king-sized waterbed back to the '70s where she thinks it belongs.

I know the sadness you feel when sorting through things from your parents. I want to tell stories about nearly everything but there just isn't enough time or interest by anyone other that my brothers and Dad.