I See Dead People's...
The emotional weight is dragging me down. Living in a home I didn't choose, surrounding by furnishings I don't want. So many items hold wonderful memories of Mom and Dad leaving the sentiments that accompany my desire to shed it all, to be rid of what they cherished, to unburden myself of their possessions waging a battle between my head and my heart.
There will be an estate sale at the end of June. I am suppose to be cleaning out what will be kept from the things that will be sold. The Other Girl and my Two Ridiculously Tall Nephews have already chosen and taken what means the most to them. I too know the few keepsakes I will retain. All I need to do is go upstairs and sort/organize the rest.
I've barely managed to start.
The file cabinet in Dad's office. Document upon document documenting my parent's lives. Years of medical history, financial planning, model airplane builds, gardening tips, tax records... easy enough to shred, let go of. But amongst the forest of papers I also find more endearing snapshots of their lives.
I excavate a folder of letters my father exchanged each year with a war buddy: The Wrong Brothers Aviation Annual Report in which they regaled each other with updates on the Agricultural Report (his buddy grew gianormous prize winning pumpkins to which Dad countered with glorified accounts of his gardening prowess), the Hunting Report (who got what deer/elk that season), and the State of the Union in which my father aired all his political grievances from the past year.
As I read through them they rarely included news about their children, but always gave updates on the wives. Mom was referred to exclusively as The Chairman, and I caught my breath reading his letter informing that far away friend that The Chairman had been diagnosed with dementia.
Do I just throw away these glimpses into who my parents were outside of me? Do I keep them? Do they remain a folder of memories no one ever delves into, left to sit on the shoulders of the next generation who also can't bring themselves to keep or part with them?
Mom's closet. Some clothes got hung up dirty before the power outage, the fall, and the excruciatingly slow end. You know in dementia - not dirty enough to go into the laundry yet. A little clump of oatmeal that missed her mouth sticking to a sleeve. Pieces of tissues wadded up in her jean pockets. Should her scent, her DNA be washed out, folded up, and sold to a stranger?
I am buried under the weight of it all, chained to a millstone of dry, dusty memories, becoming grist underneath their heavy burden.
It feels wrong to want my dead parents off my back, although I suppose it's a common stumbling block for those of us who remain living: how can we ditch the things our loved ones held dear? If we loved them wouldn't we cling fiercely to everything they had/were to prove our fidelity?
I thought I could do this by myself, but clearly I am incapable of it. I have sent out an SOS to The Other Girl. She will be here this week to spur me along. Thank gawd.
Or maybe I'm completely off base on this one.
Maybe I'm dragging my feet because my real fear is accepting the finality of this journey - of living in a house devoid of all that made it Mom and Dad's, perhaps voiding my existence too. Well...
I guess I won't know
until I don't see dead people's things anymore.