This last weekend was exhausting, both mentally and physically. On Saturday we began the arduous process of cleaning out my mother’s house. There is almost 3 decades of accumulated goods and memories covering almost every inch of the house, garage and yard.

I was instructed to get a 20 yard dumpster, I had stated I thought at least a 30 yard one was needed but everyone else outvoted me. My aunt, uncle and mother started in the basement and I decided to begin tackling the garage.


It was soon evident to me that I had bit off more than I wanted. Without my mom around I didn’t feel comfortable chucking the majority of the stuff in the dumpster. I organized things into piles of like-goods and when my cousin showed up I moved into the foyer and began de-cluttering there.

Before finishing the foyer I got distracted by the dirty fridge and then spent the next couple hours cleaning that out, along with some kitchen cabinets.

My aunt took a break from the basement and began cleaning the bathroom, my uncle wandered back out to the garage, my mom just sat in the living room looking lost and overwhelmed. I asked her to decide if things from the kitchen were going to be saved, tossed or donated. I felt like I was on an episode of hoarders.

All too soon the dumpster outside was full.


The garage is still full of items that need to be tossed or donated, especially the rafters which we didn’t even begin to explore. The shed in the back is full of stuff I think just needs to be tossed. The basement is still full of things, the crawl space is crammed full of items, there are closets and cupboards and nooks and crannies all just waiting for us to come play the keep, toss or donate game with their contents. We barely made a dent.

It was hard, so hard, to keep from letting my emotions run me all day. I kept telling myself “this has to get done, we need to get this place ready to sell, the garbage has to go” and then I would see some memento from my childhood, or a cherished item of my dad’s and I would feel the tears welling up and threatening to stop my progress. I can’t even imagine how much it was affecting my mom.

The next day I spent the afternoon photographing a family reunion for a co-worker. It was a nice distraction but I felt like I should’ve been spending time with my mom. She was clearly upset by the previous day’s purge and insisted she just wanted to sit alone at her house and go through some things. She will be heading back to stay at her house today, now that my brother is back from WA. I will miss her. I will worry about her, and her dog, when she is no longer there. It’s been a hard weekend but I hope that maybe the path of progress has had the first stones laid and we can continue to build it together.


15 thoughts on “Progress?

      • Good DBA. Ha! You know the games that are played. Man, sometimes I just shake my head. I wanted a replacement window screen for my window. So, I check on line and the cheapest is Home Depot. They have two types at $6 and $7 showing in stock at the stores . Fine, I get a lift over there and the cheapest on the shelf is $14. There is no empty spot for the others – it is as if they never existed. So I get a clerk – he is very good – and we search the inventory on the computer -= not there. I was in retail for many years so I asked to see the SKU file – that’s stock keeping unit, a term used by retailers to designate a unique item. This will list the history of every stock item ever described as “window screen”. There were about 30 SKU’s and sure enough, there were the two I had seen advertised and they were marked “discontinued”. Now it is illegal to advertise a wrong price on an item but it is not illegal to advertise a discontinued or out of stock item. It is called bait and switch – where you bait the customer into the shop with the promise of a lower price and then switch and sell them a more expensive item. It is shitty behaviour but it is not illegal. I was upset and told the clerk I was on a disability pension and asked if they had any scraps of screen I could put together. He said – Let’s go take a look. ha! So he pulls out a new roll of aluminum screen, bends the end – passes it to me and says: That looks damaged to me = does that look damaged to you? I replied: Yep. He said: Tell the cashier that Jay told you 50% off the damaged goods. Ha! I did and she grumbled but put it through that way. So I got it for$7. Good deal – although that was what it was advertised at to begin with. He was kind to me and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

        Anyway I have a friend who was going to help me install it as I am too shakey to get up on a ladder. We were just going to staple and tape it in place as the window does not overlook a street just a cut between the buildings. He called a friend to see if we could borrow a ladder and the friend. who does repair work for a living said that he would come by on Thursday and do the installation complete with a frame. I told him I had no money to pay him and he said he didn’t want anything – he was glad to do it and it would just take a few minutes. Pretty amazing. People are very kind. Anyway, he is said to very reputable, so we’ll see. I’ll let you know how it goes.

        That’s a pretty small undertaking compare to you sorting through a lifetime of your Mom’s possessions – now that is hard. I wish you the best. 🙂

  1. That’s a hard thing to do–I had to go through that when my brother died and I know he was a hoarder. My mom wants help with her house but every time I try to help her the decisions are too overwhelming for her. Hang in there.

  2. What a terrible job! When my father-in-law died (before I met my husband) my mother-in-law asked my husband and brother to go through all their father’s things and ‘keep, toss, donate’. They hated doing it but ma-in-law wouldn’t/couldn’t. My mother has a house full to bursting and though she got rid of a few things after Dad died the house is still stuffed. She told me the other week that she had thought about clearing out a few things but just couldn’t. It was too difficult for her. ‘So I’ve left it all for you to do after I’ve gone’ she said smiling. 🙂

  3. Tough job, so many memories are attached to physical things. This might sound sappy but I like to think of how grateful I was to have that item and then I will “say goodbye” to it.

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