by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett
I didn't have to do a thing when my Dad passed away almost six years ago. Everything went to my mother (and my younger brother got his tools). My Mom handled everything. Now that she has passed, it's up to me.
Our first task was the funeral parlor. The last two times I've had that sad duty it was ... sad. My younger brother came with me this time and he handles death with humor. So he had me and the funeral director laughing like crazy, which was certainly better than crying. (And I've cried buckets these past two months.)
We've had to deal with insurance companies, and pension plans, and banks, and a black-sheep family member who has thrown stumbling blocks in our path, but the hardest thing for me has been the job of clearing out my Mum's house.
I've found unfinished quilts, sweaters, doilies, socks, afghans--some she started, some she bought at yard sales. But most of all there's her quilting material and her yarn. We're not talking a few skeins or a few cones of yarn, and we're not talking about a few fat quarters of quilt material. We're talking hundreds of skeins of yarn, scores of cones of yarn, and about 15 LARGE tubs filled with quilting material, all stored in a damp basement. (The dehumidifier died some time ago. Guess who went out and bought a new one on Wednesday?)
Trying to sort like-items has been a Herculean task. All I've seemed to accomplish so far is make the house a total mess. We're going to have a sale soon, and perhaps after that first sale, we'll be able to better assess what's left.
It's just me doing all this (for reasons we won't get into, because I
don't understand them myself), plus trying to write, plus trying to keep a
house of my own. Some days I just stand in my mother's living room and
cry because I'm so overwhelmed. But I've got to get the job done. They
trusted me to do it.
Have you ever had to clear out a loved one's home? Did you come up with a system to make it easier? I really would like to know. (Thank you.)