My dad passed away last March. His home just sold and the closing is coming up soon. For almost one year, his home remained untouched while it was for sale. His wife, unable to go through all of his ‘stuff’, put a for sale sign on the front lawn and left the state.
Now, we (the children) have three weeks to go through a lifetime of our parents belongings. The majority of items in the home belonged to dad and mom. Walking into dad’s home is like returning to 1993, the year mom died. The same couches, chairs, end tables, pictures, knick knacks, serving dishes, plates, tea set and family memories.
In addition to memories, Dad left a legacy of artifacts from his world travel. He has pictures from meetings with Fidel Castro and Anwar Sadat. He has souvenirs from the USSR and China where he traveled long before diplomatic channels were open to those countries.
The remains of his hard work are stored in rows of boxes. Boxes of carousels with picture slides from countries all over the world. Boxes of speeches that are memorable and inspiring. Boxes of keys, paper clips and rubber bands.
Every night, when dad came home from the office, he would empty his pockets. Invariably, his pockets held coins, keys, rubber bands and paper clips. The coins and keys were understandable. The rubber bands and paper clips? Not so much.
One night I questioned dad on the contents of his pockets, trying to sweep away the trash from the treasure. He told me not to touch anything because those two paper clips were his lucky paper clips. Huh? How do you get lucky paper clips? I was never enlightened.
As I wade through dad’s belongings I am finding small containers filled with paper clips. These stashes are making me pause. Where did his lucky paper clips go? Why are there five paper clips in one box and fourteen in another? What about the Poppycock can full of coins, paper clips and rubber bands? What is the significance of all these paper clips in drawers, baskets and boxes?
What is important? I can’t tell right now so I am sorting and stashing and driving my husband nuts. Our storage room is bursting at the seams.
It took me ten years to let go of my mother’s trash. This time, I hope I can figure out what is important and recycle what is not quickly. Either that or you will soon see me on an upcoming show of hoarders.