Cleaning Out

I knew I had to start cleaning out drawers and closets but there was something holding me back.  Not necessarily the size of the project so much as going through my parents’ belongings.  If you saw the house, it doesn’t necessarily look as though anything has been done – it is more the inside where there is a difference.  I cleared out a shelf in the office with things both Mom and Dad had clipped and saved, mostly Mom’s idea pile.  She had a lot of articles about rug hooking, pattern ideas, calendars with flowers and some patterns she had transfer to a backing to hook.  I found her patterns for the coat of arms rug – a list of tartans and descriptions as well as individual shield patterns.

Thursday afternoon I started on the desk in the living room, clearing out the top of the desk with all the little drawers and cubby holes.  I know I come from a long line of  pack rats, but I had no idea how much Mom kept.  I filled a shopping bag with old pay stubs for Dad, check registers, you name it.  I was really tired by the time I finished that.  Friday I started on the first three large drawers below – another full bag of things.  I put all the things to be shredded on top of the desk and Eddie took care of that for me – they may be old but I want to be sure no one can use the information.  I have one more drawer to go.  then it is on to the bedroom.


It was interesting to see what Mom kept, there are reports from school for all three of us, some letters from grandparents, congratulation cards for all three of us from relatives, a bunch of newspaper articles about family members – the others I don’t know who they are but I think they are people Mom went to school with or knew in Glastonbury.  There are pictures of all kinds and in the lower drawers she has so many cards to use for any occasion.  I may send those over to Goodwill and some other things.  Letters, photos and other papers I have in a box so Candy and Ellen can check them out.

It will be interesting to see what is squirreled away in the bedroom bureaus.  Now that I have done most of the desk, I realize it would have been smart to do it a lot sooner.  Maybe it has just taken this long to be ready to do it.  I need to clean things out to sell them, otherwise they would be very heavy and there is no telling what is in the drawers.



I put the dining room table on Craig’s list last Saturday – no word so far.  I had been hesitant to do it only because I didn’t know how it worked and what to do.  I checked out eBay as well just to have an idea how much I could ask – 52″ round mahogany pedestal table with 3 leaves, 6 chairs and table protectors.  Turned out it was very hard to list it on Craig’s List, so I will put another on the site.

We need to start going through books and donate them to the library.  I want to make sure which ones are worth keeping or truing to sell – the ones I have with Judith on her online book store are still there.  She said things are very slow right now.  I do want to check with her to find out which books are valuable then decide what to do with them.

I know Mom is no longer in this world but a world of her own – still, it feels strange to be doing this while she is still alive.  Yet she isn’t going to be coming back and it is long past time for Eddie and me to make this house our own.  I often feel pulled in 2 opposite directions.

I visit Mom twice a week and I notice she is more sleepy when I come – some days she is quite alert and aware.  The day she didn’t know who I was took me a little by surprise and since she was in a feisty mood, she didn’t want anyone to touch her.  So now I ask her if she would like a hug and the other day, she said yes, and a kiss.  I know the not recognizing me will come more often, I hope to be able to be objective about it and not get upset.  She loves chocolate and cookies, always saying yes to them.  When she is really sleepy, I will save some of the cookies and put them in her room for later – Judy says she will have a snack in the afternoon.  I tend to put her to sleep when I read, she says that’s fine.

Every day is an education, learning experience and challenge, I am working on seeing it that way rather than a upsetting situation.  I am working on it every day and I have made a lot of progress, though I am still a work in progress.

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3 Responses to “Cleaning Out”

  1. Charlotte Trayer Says:

    Boy, Liz, I know just what you mean!! After mom was in the group home for over a year, daddy and I talked about what to do with her clothes, since it was obvious she wouldn’t be wearing them any more. Yet, we were reluctant to do anything, so they stayed there until after daddy died, and I started cleaning out the house.

    As you may recall, I worked in the house many many times, sometimes going down and spending a night or two, so I could devote more time to cleaning out and less travel time. Can’t begin to tell you how many grocery bags of paper recyclables (some to shred, most to simply put in our recycle bin at home) I carted out of there. There were some weeks I just couldn’t face working down there, though–had to take a break, and do something else! I just felt too sad at times.

    On one of the last days before the estate sale, Paul came over and was helping, and he commented on “how much stuff” mom and dad had saved, and I told him, “what you are seeing is a Drop In The Bucket compared to what I have already taken out of here!!” I don’t think he had any idea…..

    I found things my cousins had written or drawn when they were little, for instance, and have returned most of those items to the original owners–including a delightful letter to Santa Claus from my cousin Jim, who was in first grade a the time! I had it (and other stuff) with me at his parents’ 60th anniversary celebration a few years ago, and when I got up to speak, I said that I thought he was old enough to have it now, but first I was going to read it to everyone. It was a big hit, and he was delighted to have it back!

    I can’t really advise as to selling various items; we just did an estate sale at mom and dad’s house, and with what was left, I had a garage sale, and after that, donated what was left to Goodwill or wherever (I don’t remember). Hope you find new homes for some of those larger items soon, so you can get your own things in place at long last!

    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      I know my Mom would clean out things periodically, but why she kept Dad’s pay stubs I have no idea. In the bottom drawer of the desk Mom had kept all our drawings, etc. I am going to box them and keep them for Candy to sort. Now it is time to tackle the 3 bureaus in her bedroom. I have been slowly giving away her clothes to the Blind when they call. I think she had a hard time when it came to giving away Dad’s clothes, it was several years after he died. I knew you would understand how it feels and what it takes. Thank you so much!

      • Charlotte Trayer Says:

        I sure do understand! I still have some papers and things to go thru again, that I didn’t have the hear to pitch at the time. Maybe now I can pitch at least some of them. Some, of course, I will want to keep.

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