Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Detritus of Life

Anyone who has ever had to clean out the home of someone who has died or, as in my mother's case, moved on to smaller digs, knows the excruciating pain of going through every. little. thing. and trying to decide what to save (and why) and what to throw away.  

The day started with waffles, which I almost never make, and then in 3 vehicles, the 3 of us made our way to Atria.  Walt, in the SUV, bringing more boxes, Jeri on bike, and me in our car.

Jeri and Ned went to check on their grandmother.  I didn't even see her yesterday.  I was trying to sort out all the stuff in her drawers and separate everything in the apartment into piles for the SPCA thrift shop, and for Habitat for Humanity, and then the rest of "all that crap."  Jeri reported that when they arrived, she was in the common room, asleep, and I was happy to hear that they had gotten her out of her room and with the others, even if she was sleeping!  Maybe she will have more social interactions now that she is there.

Jeri, bless her heart, decided that "Marge," my mother's pod-mate, had taken over the door to their apartment and needed to share.  I love what she did

Ned helped with the clean up and took a huge stack of puzzles upstairs to the puzzle area.
At noon, we took a break and met Walt's brother Norm and his wife at Dos Coyotes, where we had a nice lunch, which I had to leave at 1:15 to get back to the apartment to meet the people who were taking the clothes we didn't move to the new place off to be donated somewhere.

Ned and Jeri took Norm and Olivia back to memory care and they visited with my mother and I settled in to go through drawers that were stuffed tightly with "stuff." It's easier to throw away someone else's treasures than your own.  It's also interesting to see the things she saved all these years.

I think she saved every greeting card she ever got and I tossed them all.  She also had a folder labeled "treasures" in which she kept, among other things, letters that Jeri wrote to her.  My mother was almost fiendishly proud of the fact that she never wrote letters to anyone, but she enjoyed getting letters.  I think I received one letter from her in my life.

I found all of my sister's school pictures through grammar school.  I haven't thrown those away, yet, but they are in one of the boxes of things to come home with me for further consideration.  I don't want them, but there is something that kept me from throwing them away.  I also was surprsed to find one of my grammar school report cards in the treasures folder.

This was another one of the treasures in that folder.

Olivia was a huge Joe Montana fan and since she was still visiting over in Memory Care, I texted her and she said she would stop by and pick it up on her way out.

Photos  .... oh groan photos.  I threw away lots and lots of photos, sometimes whole books of photos of people I didn't know.  One, I guess, was a party for my mother's retirement.  She is dressed up, with a corsage, and it's picture after picture of her with people I didn't recognize.  My father is in the pictures too, so it was before she met Fred.  Special memories but not, alas, for me.

I even threw away the album of the pictures of her wedding to Fred.  That was a painful day for me.  I was asked to be the photographer (I also was the cake decorator) and all day long it was "Bev, take a picture of us with....so and so."  There are pictures with Fred's parents, with his kids, with all their grandkids, and with other people there.  Guess who was never asked to be in a photo.  The photographer.  To look through this album you wouldn't have a clue I was even there.  It set up the way it was going to be for the 10 years of their marriage.  Fred's family always came first and despite my attempts to make friends with his family, it never happened (until much, much later).  They even gave her a big party on one of those landmark birthdays (maybe 80).  It was at a winery they had some connection to, apparently a fancy place where everyone spent the night and the party was wonderful.  I didn't even know about it until after it was over.  So I had no compunction about throwing that wedding album away.

I did keep, though, letters she received from both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, thanking her for her donations to the DNC and coming with an 8x10 photo of the president and a nice certificate.  I don't know what I'll do with those, but I just couldn't bring myself to throw them away.
There were also commendations from Hospice of Marin, where she volunteered for many years.  When she finally retired, she was their oldest volunteer, and the one who had worked for Hospice for the longest time.  Sadly, those also became "garbage."

I tossed her high school yearbook which was sent to all the graduates in preparation for their 50th anniversary reunion.  

On and on and on it went.  Walt was packing up the kitchen and putting thousands of framed pictures into boxes that I don't have a clue what I'll do with.

At 3 p.m., I collapsed mentally.  I was going to put a bookcase of framed photos into a box and I just sat there and literally couldn't move.  I finally decided to go home and left Walt there working, bless his heart.

I arrived home, plopped into my recliner and slept for more than two hours.  After I woke up, we attacked one of the things that we did not throw away..

My mother was a vodka drinker and this bottle of vodka has been in her refrigerator for months, maybe years.  But we decided that it was only right that we finish it off with vodka and tonic.  

It was just the remedy I needed, but I was still exhausted and went to sleep at 10, falling asleep instantly.  Of course that meant I was awake at 12:30 and now, at 3 a.m., I have finished writing this and hope that now that it's written, I can get back to sleep for another two hours.

We should have less work to do today, but still have lots of sorting to do.  Jeri and I are going to have lunch with my mother.

1 comment:

Mary Z said...

Since I've done that once, my heart goes out to you. Like you, I had help. My girls pretty much did all the cleaning out/throwing away of our stuff (with me "supervising"), filling two dumpsters, making one trip to the library with a carload of books, innumerable trips to the Northside Neighborhood House (local charity similar to Goodwill), and giving stuff away to anybody who asked (or even slowed down). They were amazing! I think that was the main reason John and I never "down-sized" - we didn't want to tackle that job. But since it had to be done quickly - like yours - it was "down and dirty". But done! Hooray for vodka and tonic!