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  • Writer's pictureLickety Glitz

I See Dead People's...

...things.


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.




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6 Comments


nkvaughn
Aug 11, 2021

Hugging you virtually. Mom's clothes still dominate the closet space in the house. There's even still some at the OTHER house, the one I have managed to list and plan to allow to be shown starting this weekend! (PROGRESS!) Over the course of this summer, I DID manage to clean out a dresser, donating, pitching or usurping the prior contents. It's a process. I have the luxury of deciding when I'm ready to go through the rest of her things. (Readying the other house for sale took care of a big chunk.) I'm going to relish that luxury and not inflict any more trauma than necessary. The last two years have done quite enough of that, unprovoked!


Readying the house…


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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Aug 11, 2021
Replying to

That's what happened to me too, nk. I'm sending you strength for the final stretch!

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Shira Leorah
Shira Leorah
Jun 01, 2021

Such a tough thing to navigate. We are at a similar place, except that there is yet another layer added on to it - Dad is still at his memory care facility, so even though we know he doesn't remember and won't ever need his furnishings and memories and documents, it's so, so difficult to make the decision to empty that storage unit now. Why wait? That is always the question, right? What difference does it make if it's now or a few months (or years) from now? And yet, it does make a difference. We're working on working through it.

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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Jun 01, 2021
Replying to

Dad died 5 years ago, and this whole time we've been living in Mom's house I could have been cleaning it out, but I just couldn't, Shira. I totally understand where you are coming from. Now it's still a struggle but I can't put it off any longer. I think it will be a relief once it is accomplished. Fingers crossed for you and I both!

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Robin Johns Grant
Robin Johns Grant
Jun 01, 2021

Yes! You have just perfectly described what I have been doing for about 4 months! I have ridiculously erred on the side of keeping all sorts of minutiae, because just touching it makes me feel like a time traveler back into my childhood. I live in a very small house and have had to get rid of some things of my own to keep all the little reminders, and I may have to throw out more later, but I obviously am not there yet.

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Lickety Glitz
Lickety Glitz
Jun 01, 2021
Replying to

It has taken me a long time too, Robin. Five years in fact, since my dad died! I could have been moving things out slowly the whole time. Now it is definitely time. I'm both chaffing to get it done and laying down and watching TV to avoid it. Ugh.

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