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.