Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Lifetime in Stuff

My mother has Parkinson's Disease and is living in an assisted living facility and we're trying to clean up her house for rental. The extra income will give her some disposable income--not to mention more money to cover expenses should her level of care increase.

She lived in her home for 50 years and she and my father had, in all of that time, one garage sale. So, needless to say, there is a lot of stuff there.

Mom has been a collector. Among the things she has collected: Teddy Bears, these little wooden building thingies, demis tas (French for tiny cups and saucers), pitchers, dolls. Yesterday, I tried to sort some of these things out--in retrospect, I'm not sure why. I'm not sure of there sale value or that Mom will even want to sell any of them.

Mom is also a hoarder. All of her kids have inherited this trait. I alone of my siblings am in recovery. I throw things away or donate them to Goodwill. I don't have a lot of stuff that I save, unless it has some sentimental value.

I'm not consistent about this. But I try. I really try.

I also sifted through all of the old bills and check stubs that my mother has kept from the last century. I started to be ruthless at first, but quickly realized that hidden amongst this useless stuff Mom had put old photographs, letters and drawings from her grandchildren, and other stuff that she will want to go through herself.

One of our tasks is to find an old manila envelope with pictures of a policeman the father of her high school sweetheart who had been killed in the line of duty back in the late 30's, when this town was still a sleepy small town. She had dug this out a couple of years ago and left it out on the dining room table. We don't know what happened to it. I have found scores of manila envelopes in every drawer or closet and all of them have been something else.

The demis tas collection comes from her grandmother. We found them in a cupboard in an old Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket. Some of them are broken. Some are in excellent condition. I don't know where any of them came from.

Mom had an old silver set that we thought she had tucked under a hutch cupboard. It had belonged to her mother. When we pulled it out, we found that a lot of pieces were missing. Mom says that some of it was scattered inside the hutch, but we haven't found them. We suspect one of her living assistants who attended her when she still lived in the house may have taken those pieces.

Before I left put some towels in her washing machine out on the patio that had been built by my father. In one corner of the floor, you can see where my brother, sister, and I had put our hand and foot in the wet cement as children. Next to our imprints, you can see those of our beloved one-eyed dog Inky.

A swallowtail had found its way into the patio and fluttered against the screen, trying to escape. I took a closer look and saw that this butterfly's wings had become tattered. I managed to trap it in my hand without having to hold the wings. I kicked the door open and released it.


vivage said...

It's interesting and sad to go thru someones stuff like that. Painful some times, funny other times.
I think you guys are lucky that she's still alive as you go thru the stuff.

Howlin' Hobbit said...

As a general rule I like your blog but every once in a while you just kill me.

This was one of those posts.


Jim said...

I totally agree with Howlin' Hobbit.