before it's too late

It's that time of year.  The time of year when one housewife I know takes every light switch off the wall and cleans behind it.  Wow, I humbly bow to her domestic obsession.  She ranks right up there with a friend of mine who spent a day-off cleaning her baseboards... on a two-year-old house!

I had NO idea there were people like this in the world!  Though I have a lot of thoughts about every day/week/month cleaning, I'm here to chat about something BIGGER!

Something so big in fact, that it will affect the HAPPINESS OF YOUR LOVED ONES!  What?!?  Yup, your childrens'/friends'/neighbors' happiness is on the line and you're either going to do something about it, or you're going to ignore this fact and sabotage the happiness of said loved one.

Ready for more specifics?  Look around you.  Even better, look in your attic, your basement, your garage, your (gasp) storage shed.  STUFF?  It's everywhere isn't it?  We are all guilty and rightfully so!  It's good to surround yourself with things you love.  It's ok to save a few sentimental items.

It is NOT OK to leave piles and piles of these items for someone else to deal with in the future.  I'm not even talking about when you die.  I'm talking about the simple fact that at some point in the future, you will be too old to do this physically and MENTALLY challening task. 

Sure, you can tell yourself that you're going to get around to it someday... but when is someday?  I guarantee someday will arrive and pass without your ever knowing it.

I moved into my beloved grandparents' home.  It's a blessing...and honestly, a curse.  I LOVE my grandparents.  To some extent, they raised me.  They saw me off on the school bus every morning, they stoked our fire every afternoon so our house would be warm when we got home.  They've attended every big and TINY event of my life.  I'm the lucky one.  I could never do as much for them as they've done for me.

And yet, our relationship is now clouded by their stuff.  This is not what they would have wanted, but they grew old before they realized the consequences.  Now, EVERY TIME I see them (practically every day), they ask me about a particular item from their home.  They describe in detail where it could be found.  My reply is always the same, your belongings are gone, the (fill-in-the-blank) has been given away/ sold/ taken/ thrown away.  Just writing the words breaks my heart.  A lifetime of things, gone.  They don't know where.  I did this.

They knew for years that they needed to organize their belongings.  They knew for months that they would be moving.  someday...

Where does that leave me?  Feeling like the BIG BAD WOLF.  We bought this house (way over our budget, but the perks were simply too great to pass up... like I said, they live NEXT DOOR!) and agreed that they and their children would have about 6-months (through an entire summer) to take everything they wanted.  But that's awkward, isn't it?  Claiming your inheritance while the owners are still alive. 

So, tonight as we dine together, Grandpa will invariably ask my husband (again) to bring up another filing cabinet (though the one he has sits partially empty with boxes from over a year ago still unpacked sitting next to it... he is 90 after all).  My husband will tell him (again) that they are all gone.  Then my grandma will ask me (again) for a particular book.  And I will tell her (again) that they are all gone.  Then she try to hide her look of confusion and sadness and will tell me that she always planned to give that collection to (fill-in-the-blank) and I will be filled with guilt, then annoyance, then frustration, then anger... but mostly, love with a cloud of sadness.


  1. You have such a unique situation--I'm sure that aspect of it is difficult! I agree with your sentiment though. When my dad passed we had to go through his things and it was so emotionally difficult and time consuming, and he only had a one bedroom apartment. Every time I'm at my mom's house I try to get her to sort through (and purge!) her things but she's a packrat. I dread the day. My great grandmother was awesome though. She went through her house and put post-it notes on the underside of EVERYTHING as to whom or where it would go when she was gone.

  2. I know EXACTLY how you feel...Mike's Grammy asks all the time where a particular item is (it's interesting that she can describe an item in detail, but can't remember something she did that morning...the brain works in mysterious ways!). And usually, I have to say I have no idea (as I have no idea what she's describing since it's usually an antique, and most likely, Mike's mom moved it somewhere). But after living in my house for 1.5 years, there's still stuff of theirs in our house (and I swear, but the end of THIS summer, their stuff better be moved). I know it's hard, and sounds rude to do this to them, but it's also not fair that we have to clean this all out of OUR house. So after giving deadlines to have items removed, just give away, and try not to feel too guilty (you have a family trying to live in that house now).

  3. This is a beautiful post, Jul. I'm sure that this has been hard for you. I have enough trouble dealing with my own amount of junk.
    You're doing great at making previously-known-as- Walter's Wald your own place. It's fun to see how you and Jake are making it your home.
    love you!


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