Monday, August 3, 2009

Do you really need that?

Last week was a busy, emotional, yet funny, bone tiring week.

We have sold mom and dad's house (yea and sob at the same time) and could no longer procrastinate about going through their things to clear the house for the new owners.

Hubby Jim, Grandson Travis, brother Tom and me were it.  It is amazing how much help a 13 year old can be when it comes to lifting, moving, and carrying things.  We ran his poor little legs into the ground.  And he never complained a single time.  Each evening after we spent a day going through cabinets, drawers and closest, I would wearily sit down and declare that I am going to clean my own house of all the clutter just as soon as I come up for air again. 

How many butter, cool whip, ice cream, and sour cream tubs does one household need? Ten or fifteen for left over's or to take a nice helping of food to a neighbor? Twenty or thirty in case you want to freeze something? How about hundreds for who knows what reason!

And speaking of collecting things. I declare that our local McDonald's profit has to have gone up since the passing of my parents. They went there daily and dad, for whatever reason, always came home with a pocket full of napkins and condiments. I don't believe they bought a napkin for years – McDonald’s provided them for their every need. Maybe I should have packed some of them up and returned them?

How much toilet bowl cleaner do you need in a house with two bathrooms? I have the answer to that.  Four unopened bottles plus the one in use!

Dad had at least 20 denim shirts, yet he always wore the same two frayed at the collar shirts. I think we are all guilty of that.

And Pyrex cake pans… mom had at least 4 in addition to her regular aluminum cake pans.  I need to check my own cabinets and see how guilty I am of the same sin… I’ve already counted 3 in my head.  Are these things contagious?

Does one really need to keep tax records dating back to the 60's? I need to call the IRS on that one I guess.

I did find mom's W2 from 1944. She made 748.00 - FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR!  Those really were simpler times, huh. I let my younger brother take that to frame since he earns minimum wage. Every time he feels down about how much money he makes, he can check out her annual wage statement.

Dad worked at a store most of his life that sold appliance, furniture, and floor covering.  He didn’t believe in throwing anything away.  If a piece of furniture was broken and going to be scrapped, he’d bring it home and fix it or keep the lumber for some project or another.  If a microwave was bad, he would salvage the glass tray and bring it home (we gave three of those trays away).  When carpet or tile samples became outdated and were to be thrown away, he would bring those home too.  The thing of it is, he used much of this stuff.  Their basement floor was laid out like a patchwork quilt of tile – nothing matching, but yet it was pleasing to the eye.


I couldn’t let this chair go.  It is an example of what Dad did with the samples.  He sewed each of them together with magical invisible thread on mom’s lightweight Singer sewing machine and reupholstered the seat to this chair.  It is in my garage right now, but that isn’t where it is staying.  I just have to find the right new item for it to replace in my already overflowing house.


It is a shame this little sewing machine didn’t come with a counter because it has logged countless hours of sewing.  I’d often be lulled to sleep at night with the humming sound of this little jewel.  Mom made all of our clothes,  wedding dresses, school dance formals, baby clothes, and on and on.  Then she would repair the things she had made when they began to wear out or alter them to fit the next person.  She taught me to sew when I was only 10.  All on this little machine.  Thanks mom!

I did find a few cool memories from my childhood. Out of the depths of a deep cabinet emerged this.


001  You might ask what in the world is that ugly thing.


It is a juicer.  The coolest juicer ever made. You put your lemon or orange in it, pull the lever and wala - juice!  You have to know by the looks of it that it has made hundreds of glasses of orange juice and lemonade – and in my little world here it is going to make hundreds more.


This ice crusher is one of my best childhood memories.   Crushed ice didn’t always come from a refrigerator door (and still doesn’t at my house – I just have a plain old fridge with no water or ice popping through the door).  My favorite memory of this ice crusher is that when we would get sick, mom would crush ice and feed us a few pieces at a time.  When I’d hear her popping the ice out of the metal ice cube tray and putting cubes in the crusher, I knew everything would be ok.

We also found dad's Air Force uniform. It was in the nonfunctioning attic (you know the type... there is a trap door that leads into the eaves of the roof.)  Old Christmas decorations and dad's uniform is all that was up there - oh and empty boxes. The uniform was encased in a decaying bag that literally fell apart as we tried to open it.  It is in perfect condition. Any ideas on what to do with such a treasure? Older brother, Tom, took it home with him while we continue scratching our heads trying to figure it out.

The sale itself was a trip.

Like I said earlier, it took us most of the week to go through things and get ready. Thursday night before the Friday sale we were feverishly pulling things out of cabinets and closets and deciding on prices when this dude shows up at the door. Huh? That is brazen - he wanted a preview, kind of like early bird specials. Brother Tom lets him in because he swears he is not a dealer (yea right). I start following him around while he is scoping things out and every time he asks the price of something I quote him a price triple (at least) of what I had planned on charging. And darned if he didn't go for some of it! Now I'm questioning in my mind whether we are selling things too cheap, but then decide we need to remember it isn't about the money. So this guy who “isn’t a dealer” and I finally make it to the dark bowels of the basement and he happens onto some very old planters and stuff.  I think he would have paid any price for them if I had been willing to sell them.  This is after he has already bought a ton of overpriced stuff. He actually paid $75 for a 25 year old couch. It was in good shape, but $75! So being the conversationalist that I am, I asked where his shop is.  You know, the shop that he doesn't own. He just grinned.  I'm still wondering how he can possibly survive.  I do a lot of antiquing and let me tell you, he was not getting good deals from me.  But that is his problem.

The sale was supposed to begin at 8:00 Friday morning.  We gathered at the house at 6:00 to get things out to the tables in the front yard.  People started showing up at 6:30.  Geeze!  It was a mad house. 

Day one we moved a ton of stuff. The prices really were right. But at the end of the day we still had a bunch of stuff to get rid of. New strategy time. Rather than pricing items individually, we set up nickel and dime tables and one table for more expensive stuff. And we created a free pile. If things weren't generating interest, it went free. Now that was interesting! Talk about a feeding frenzy! All of those flooring samples and upholstery samples I mentioned earlier... people took them! Tons of them! (Junyah you would have been in heaven).

Everything was supposed to be over by Noon Saturday.  Dang, we still had a kitchen table, coffee table, end table, and crushed velvet couch left.  We had marked them down to $5 each but still no takers.  My cousin happened by just to say hi and mentioned her daughter was moving into an apartment.  Ah Michele, we can set here up.  How about letting us haul the tables and couch to her apartment – free.  They took the tables but for some reason wasn’t interested in the couch.  Now almost all of the big things are gone and we feel good about how everything went. 

Dismantling the life’s accumulation of my parents was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.  This past year and 1/2 has been a series of tough events.  I realize, though, this is part of the healing and acceptance process.  Each time I pulled some forgotten book off a shelf, or pillow case my grandma embroidered, or mixing bowl for icing out of the cabinets, I remembered the past and I healed a bit more.  My brother kept catching me in the middle of my spontaneous meltdowns and finally just took to rolling his eyes at me.  I can’t say that I blame him!

So anyway, this is what the blog holiday was all about. 

Anybody need a green crushed velvet couch?  The price is right…



AliceKay said...

Wow, Deanna. I figured this was what you had going on last week and I was right.

All of those memories come flooding back, don't they? And I believe this has got to be one of the hardest things anyone can do. It sounds like you've made peace with letting those things go, and with keeping the things you wanted to keep.

When I read this, I felt like I was right there with you seeing this all unfold before me. What a special story. There's so much I could say here, but I won't. I'll just leave this big ole hug for you. *HUGS*

jewelzmomof4 said...

Mom tell Tom to build a shadow box or have one built for Grandpas uniform that would be really cool he could display it and it would make for a little conversation to lol. Grandpa would Like that considering he held onto everything and put them to better use. Well that is a better use for his uniform wall space and conversation.

Intense Guy said...


You survived - and of that I'm glad.

That old Air Force Uniform might be much wanted by a museum nearby like the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum.

Queenie Jeannie said...

Oh you dear thing. I'm kinda alotta teary right now, having gone through it all with you!!

I have to say that the picture of the sewing machine made my heart just STOP!!! My Grandmother worked for Singer, back when women did not work for a "career"!, and she taught me to sew and GAVE ME that very same machine!!!! Through some terrible events, I don't have it anymore but I have all the memories. That machine is a GEM!!!! You can do anything with it and I did! It was so shiny black, with gold trim, and she taught me how to use it and take care of it, one beautiful fun summer longggg, longgg ago.....

*snaps out of it*

Sorry, this is about you not me! I'm sorry you had so much work and "life stuff" to deal with. I'm glad it was healing for you and I'm sure it brought back tons of great memories too. Big hugs to you!

Anonymous said...

Been there, done that about 23 years ago. What a jumble of emotions- confusion, chaos, sadness, wonder, comfort. It's rather amazing at what people consider of value to them, whether it be the family, or even strangers looking to buy things. Time goes on, memories get dimmer. Sometimes that's a good thing, other times not so good. Hopefully you have gotten lots of pictures and video of your parents. Unfortunately I didn't. The pictures are nice, but the video lets you remember their mannerisms.

PetalsYoga said...


This post was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you so much. Your healing and memories put me in a frame of mind that I so desperately needed today. (My quickly aging parents are in town for the next month or so... 'nuff said."

Thanks so much for giving me the shoulder shake that I needed.



Karla said...

I also have been there...and I know exactly what you felt. My parents were not as wonderful as yours but still..letting go is never easy..Best thing to say is *hugsss*

Amy said...

This was a neat post and to read about your childhood memories. I just wanted to say Thanks for stopping by when Yaya came by. I hope you have a great day. Sorry I do not need a great couch either.

Tori_z said...

I'm glad you were able to make peace with letting those things go. Sounds like you have a lot of wonderful memories there. *Hugs*

Well, if it wasn't for the fact it would cost more to ship it than it would for me to go to a furniture shop and buy one brand new, I'd say yes to the couch. Because of the cost of shipping I think I'll pass though.

LadyStyx said...

No thanks on the couch. I've got a lovely futon that a friend gave to me a couple years back when she re-did her living room. Now, if I was living closer...I might just rethink it. :) Don't think I've ever bought an actual couch. Each one I've had were freebees.

In yard sales, there's such a thing a pricing things too low too.


King of New York Hacks said...

What a brilliant post. Heartwarming and honest. Truly a great read. I've been trying to clean my father's house for 12 years since my mother passed on and every time I'm there there are more napkins and condiments with his usual " got some cleaning products for a buck at the dollar store" ....ugh..I guess we'll all do it eventually ! LOL

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through that. But you did come away with tokens holding great memories, like that sewing machine.


PS Thank you for visiting my guest post at Amy's!

PictureGirl said...

I know exactly what you went through. My parents and my hubs parents are all gone now, his mom just a year ago.

You are so right, it is one of the hardest things you ever have to do.

Our parents must have all been from the same generation. Keeping everything and using and re-using was a result of having grown up during the Great Depression.

You write beautifully and I felt right along with you. So much of what you told about your parents and your memories fit right in with my folks and what I experienced growing up.

It sounds funny but as hard as this was for you, doesn't it kinda feel like closure? A healing kind of closure.

God bless you and your family while you are going through this difficult time in your lives. I know it feels like your parents passing all over again.

Another chapter in our lives......

Queenie Jeannie said...

Whatcha up to now?


junyah said...

Being a Veterun myself the thing i Think i would do with that uniform is to take it to the nearest American legion post or VFW, or any one of them Oginastions and ask if they would like to have it, because they are collectors Item and they use them for reinackments too or just to have for display.
Going though all that stuff is hard, since we just moved i know what its like. lol and to think i had to keep most of junk or not.. Hugs to you hun...JR

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