Saturday, October 19, 2013

How To Have Grateful Children

I've disappeared for a bit again in order to go back to my dad's house and continue cleaning out an accounting office where essentially nothing was thrown away for, oh, 35 years.  NOTHING.

Paper clip, anyone?  We seem to have plenty.

I couldn't face the discomfort of sleeping on the couch again (not after all those hours in the car), so I screwed up enough nerve to sleep in the only available bed, which happened to be in my dad's bedroom.  You know, the room in which he passed away a mere month ago?  You would be correct in assuming that I kept the light on.

I suffered no hauntings, however, and arose refreshed to face the veritable mountain of paper and office supplies which awaited me. We filled up the garage yet again with boxes of stuff to be recycled or given away or thrown out.  I managed to get rid of 2 huge old office desks and a bookcase (thank you, Craigslist!); and I spent more time gathering photos that I will bring home and beg David to scan into the computer.  A good day's work, but there is stuff I still have not even touched. 

Which brings me to the real point of this post: people, walk directly to whatever filing cabinet you might have in your home and empty out a folder or two.  Now.  Just do it.  Repeat this exercise at least once a week.  Your children will thank you for it someday, I promise you.  Oh, and really?  They won't care too much about your high school yearbook.  Feel free to toss that, too.

You're welcome.


25 comments:

  1. Truth! You are speaking the truth. I have been doing this after taking over and settling my sister's estate. We are just now , after 3 years, getting ready to walk into his mother's house. We are getting the brother out.
    And, every time I visit my mom a little bit gets taken out a back door. Please don't tell.
    I am not throwing out family heirloom, I am throwing out trash.

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  2. I have been doing the same thing for almost a year. My Mom was moved to a facility and she had lived in the same house for 65 years! There is an end, but you will end up with more than you want at your house maybe as I did because you are too exhausted to make a decision. I have boxes for 9 months in my garage and STILL haven't opened them!! Good luck!!!

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  3. I can't even tell you how much I need to take this advice. See also: closets.

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  4. I was just talking about this at breakfast... telling my husband we had to start getting rid of clutter and papers now, not just for my sanity (I hate "stuff") but because we have plans to move soon, and we're not getting any younger. I really don't want my kids to have to deal with all this. Thanks for the kick in the pants (I made my husband read this as well).

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  5. You are right. We just brought about 10 boxes from my mother-in-law's house to our basement, following her move to assisted living. And we already had about 10 boxes of priceless junk from my aunt's house. I know where I will be going first for my Christmas gift 'shopping'.

    All this stuff in our basement finally prompted me to at least go through my own closet and get rid of clothes I don't wear.

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  6. Oh my yes. Mom died 21 months ago and we are STILL clearing out. She tended to hide stuff like $100 bills in between sheets of return address mailing labels from every charity on earth, which filled several dresser drawers. She put jewelry wrapped in napkins in cleaned out meals on wheels plastic containers, stacked with other plastic containers full of salt and pepper packets, also wrapped in napkins. It's like the shell game from hell. My sister suffers from the same never throw anything away affliction and as executor has kept everything moving at a snail's pace. I will NOT do this to my daughter.

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    Replies
    1. Oh man you can't even just toss a stack!

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    2. I'm willing at this point!

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    3. My aunt and/or uncle did something similar! I found an uncashed check, a boat load of jewelry and cash wrapped in a sock and stashed in a silk plant in their master bathroom. My sister found jewelry behind the headboard. I think my mom found jewelry sewn into the hem of at least one nightgown or dress. My aunt transferred round toothpicks to a box that held square toothpicks then wrote "round toothpicks" on the box. We had no idea she was like this until we started going through their house. It was sad and aggravating all at once.

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  7. My husband was used to be an archaeologist, so a certain idolatry of objects is expected. Unlike many men, he is also quite sentimental. Mix with my fear/dread of/guilt over throwing away anything hand made by our children and you have a heady cocktail of STUFF. We are not hoarders and, aside from too many books, we mostly have a place for everything. Your point is well taken. And? I've been away from blogging/reading and did not know about your dad. I am really sorry.

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  8. My mom keeps a spreadsheet with an itemized list of how often she buys asprin. F'me.

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  9. About four years ago, my in-laws were in the process of downsizing from the house they'd been in for 20 years. My FIL is a hoarder and had at least four or five full-height filing cabinets absolutely stuffed full of files that dated back to the 1950s, including old term papers, investment info on companies that are no longer around, and more. My MIL got him to start sorting through the crap, but all he did was make some piles on the floor and then walk away in frustration. He ended up going into the hospital for a few weeks not long after that and while he was gone, my MIL hired some people to come in and just empty out all the file cabinets and shred the contents. Problem solved.

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  10. oh my word these stories.

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  11. Ow. Stabbed through the heart. You know about my filing cabinet. I'm so embarrassed.

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    Replies
    1. You're lucky it's only a filing cabinet. Real professional hoarders have a whole house full of things.

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  12. At my house it's UFO's (unfinished objects, as in quilts) and mountains of fabric bits and pieces. *sigh* I've thrown out lots, sent lots to DI (Utah's Good Will) and it doesn't look like I've even touched the piles. *sigh*

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  13. Good advice.
    I was in awe of how well my grandma downsized in preparation for her death--she was a role model to me and I've made a good effort ever since to have a fairly small and manageable footprint for my offspring to clean up someday.

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  14. Poor you! Since we live so far away, hubby's 2 brothers in NY state were the one who got stuck with the brunt of the sorting of stuff at his parents house. I still have boxes we have not sorted and they have been sitting here for 3 years. There are a few things I kept, 100% cotton sheets in good shape, etc. However, I asked for nothing with sentimental or financial value. I got waht I needed/wanted. We ended up with many corelle dishes and plates and cheap silverware, as well as more baking pans. I think we have some of the green depression ware glasses dishes mom left for the kids. The boxes have not been opened, they are in the attic for a time when all the kids are home. The girls can sort them themselves.

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  15. My FIL just passed away a month ago, and my husband came home from his house swearing that he was going to get rid of some of his clutter. We're working on it :-)

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  16. We are moving in December. I will be 9 months pregnant. I started packing already and yesterday I emptied a drawer. I felt like I climbed Kilamanjaro until I went in the basement. And my son's room. And the front porch. I gave up and I took a nap.

    My 1st FIL had to clean out his dad's place. He brought back at least 10 pairs of toenail clippers and I can't even begin to tell you how many rosaries- including a huge Paul Bunyon sized one. Grandpa wasn't even religious so it was a real WTF moment for all of us.

    I do not even want to discuss the state of my parents or current inlaws homes.

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  17. My father-in-law has 1000s of VHS tapes, many of which he recorded himself, back in the day. He refuses to get rid of ANY of them. Once, they made some comment about the huge garage sale we'll have after they're gone. No, I said, the huge dumpster. Seriously, anyone want to pay even 25 cents for a tape with recordings of obscure movies shown on TV in the late 80s? If so, let me know. I can hook you up!

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  18. Paper clutter is the worst because so much of it represents some task you must attend to or something important you're supposed to keep track of. I do get rid of paper clutter every few months, but I'm always afraid I'm going to get burned because I'm missing some random piece of information.

    True story: Several years ago, I gave my brother-in-law a subscription to Wired magazine for Christmas. I paid for it with a paper check, which I mailed to the company with their subscription card. My brother-in-law started receiving the magazine and then started getting letters demanding payment for the subscription. We all tried calling Wired and got nowhere. This was back when our bank would send me my cancelled checks, and my sister asked me for a copy of the cancelled check and I couldn't find it! And yet, Wired MUST have gotten it, or how would they have known to send the subscription to my brother-in-law? It was horribly embarrassing, and I can't remember how it was all resolved, but the experience has made me a little afraid to throw away anything related to business transactions with companies, and it has also taught me to never, ever have anything to do with Wired magazine.

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  19. My husband and I are not clutter bugs; in fact, I am constantly getting rid of things we don't need anymore. I remember when my Nonna died I asked my parents to bring me back something of hers she used every day. I got her thimble, and every once in a while that thimble reminds me to keep it simple, to to keep it real.

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  20. Your advice is worth diamonds. Truly.
    My husband throws stuff out on a regular basis. I am genetically disposed to keeping paperwork and losing important things in the process. I should know better, as it took nearly 18 months to clear out my mother's house (most of the work done by my dear, long-suffering SIL). You know our story already: important and valuable items mixed in with the paper trash/clutter.
    I wish you plenty of air and light, and patience.

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  21. This rule applies whether you have 1 child or many. If you have one (I'm an only and dread this day) your child will be responsible for every detail from funeral planning to the will to emptying out the clutter. Make his or her life easier. On the other hand, having a handful of kids means that they will either a)fight over everything, b)secretly steal things on the sly while leaving the real work for their siblings, or c)do nothing at all because we're all just too polite i.e. lazy. The c option is the one that my mama and her 4 siblings went with. I would love to get into that house and just go to town decluttering, scanning photos etc, but it's "not my place." Parents, follow this wise woman's advice!

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