Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sentimental Fool

My dumpster is here!

The guy just brought it from the local waste management company, backed his truck into the driveway, and dropped it off. There it will sit for the next fourteen days, and all the while I'll be loading it up.

For a minimalist like me, this could only be good news, right? Over the past four-and-a-half years now, I've dreamed of this day. Both my parents were very un-minimalist. Whenever my father took a nap, I'd set my sites on how I could maybe smuggle 73 peanut butter jars my stepmother had squirreled away out to the curb for recycling. And now, I have this huge dumpster, big as a swimming pool, to fill up with crap.

But what is this tugging at my heartstrings?

Uh oh.

This could be bad.

It was one thing to view with jaundiced eye the very La-Z-Boy recliner my father was sitting on--filthy, broken, smelly--and dream of getting rid of it. But it's quite another when that filthy, broken, smelly recliner is all I have left of the man. His physical presence is gone, and all he left behind is clutter.

Suddenly, I'm seeing everything in a new light. I could draw up a long list of why that cheap awful floorlamp should be consigned to the dumpster (it's broken, there's a short in the wire, it's cheap wood and poorly made, I would never be able to sell it, I'm damned sure not keeping it). But in the adjacent column listing reasons to not throw it in the dumpster are three little words: it was his.

I think, perhaps, I'll have to start small and work my way up. Like down in the basement, home to stuff that even my parents would probably admit should have been thrown out but wasn't. And since our basement flooded a couple of years ago, that stuff that should have been thrown out is now water damaged. I'll start with thee easy stuff, the obvious trash (that sounds like a queeny put-down, no? "Oh her? Obvious trash. That's what she is."). And slowly slowly I'll work my way towards those things which probably still bear my father's fingerprints.

I thought this would be easy. But clearly, it's going to be very difficult.


T.E.W. said...

Maybe the Baron should come and help, sometimes it helps to have a second party who does not have the attachment to the items you are hoping to get rid of.

MaryO said...

Cleaning out like this is very, very hard. Give yourself time. The best thing my brother and I did was to pay the rent for six months on Mom's apartment, to give us time.

Get some friends to help. Five guys from St. Luke's came to help me, and it was really great to have people around and give an objective view.


kiturgy said...

What they said--maybe some guys from St. Paul's or softball?

Anonymous said...

Remember, that the THINGS are NOT your father. The memories you have of him are what's important. I had to do this with my grandmother and I understand your feelings. Even small, stupid, ugly things take on a different perspective.

Try to get someone to help you, that will put an unemotional eye on it, and will be there to support you when you do have the emotional need.

Find some very special decent good quality things that will remind you of him and not the trash. The fact that it was his favorite coffee cup, doesn't take away from the fact that it is cracked, leaks and says "Vote for Carter" on it.

Anonymous said...

Take photographs of the rooms as they are now, even closeups of certain items (like the chair and the lamp). Put them in an album, digital or paper, and you will still have the pictures to spark off memories in the future.

Things are only things, but some are more difficult to dispose of. Chose a few items that are particularly special (like the coffee mug), but in the end, trash is trash, say goodbye to it out loud as you throw it in the dumpster.


Anonymous said...

And be careful handling that stuff, Drew. Expecially the wet stuff in the basement. Nothing sentimental about mold in your lungs.