Mike and I are still in the throes of cleaning out our home where we have lived for more than thirty-four years. In early January a new family will move in and we will move on to our next adventure. I have a wide range of emotions, and although I believe it is time for us to take this next step, it is very hard. Leaving our home which we built in 1988, renovated and expanded in 2003, and in which we have so many wonderful memories of family times, is a major life change. But the decision has been made, and we are moving on. But not before we get through facing thirty-four-plus years of stuff and delayed decisions.
I wish you could be beside me while I purge (although not enough,) pack (too much,) and box up a lifetime of memories. I especially wish you could be with me for the attic cleanouts. I have not been into the attics except to store items that were used infrequently, such as bedside commodes for our elderly family members. I had no idea what the attics housed. I was amazed when I got into the boxes in the attics. I found things I had never seen, had no idea I had, and do not know how they got there.
In the main attic, I found items that belonged to my ex-husband (we divorced in 1980,) Mike’s ex-wife, (from whom he was separated since the late 1970s, although they divorced later) from my mother who passed away in 1998, and my aunt who passed away in 1981. There were also many college notebooks of Mike’s from his years at North Carolina State University, from which he graduated in 1975, and my nursing cap and nursing shoes from 1972. There was Chatham’s baby bed, and Chatham is now 45 years old, and no one else has been able to use that baby bed since it was deemed unsafe many years ago. Why ‘oh why would we have kept that bed and stored it in the attic, knowing it should not be used again? There were boxes of stuffed animals and camp letters, as well as a toy chest, a typewriter (remember those?), and a bowling ball. The list could go on and on, but you get the picture.
In the first paragraph, I mentioned “getting through thirty-four years of stuff and delayed decisions.” Hopefully, you have a clear picture of some of the thirty-four years of stuff. But what about the delayed decisions? Perhaps those are clear also. Almost every item in the attics represent delayed decisions. When I put my mother’s remaining possessions in the attic when she passed away, I was delaying the decision about them. When my nursing cap and shoes were placed in the attic, I delayed the decision as to whether to keep them or not, for the manner in which they decayed in the attic made them unable to be saved for any purpose other than throwing them out thirty-four years later. Any paper left in the attic for that many years is of no use to anyone, other than to the squirrels (I prefer to think the squirrels were in the attic making a mess of any papers other than those other critters!)
I did find some wonderful old photos in the main attic, and most of those were salvageable. You see some of those in this blog. I also found a letter from an old boyfriend (I wonder why I saved that?!) as well as a letter from a cousin which I will treasure. Discovering the photos made cleaning out the rest of the mess more than worth it.
If I continue down memory lane much longer I will not finish the job of cleaning out, wrapping up, and boxing the items we will carry with us to our next adventure. While I am sure that I am not purging enough and am therefore keeping too much, I am ok with boxing up and storing anything I am having a hard time letting go. I am going to give myself six months to go back through anything still in boxes and unused, and decide what to do about those things other than continue to carry them around.
But nothing will go in an attic, where it will be out of sight and lost for years. I am making myself this promise. So step aside critters, and find yourself another home.