Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sorting and Packing Memories. . .and Other Stuff

by Maggie Sefton

I wasn't able to write a word of fiction last week. Why? Because my time was totally consumed by handling the arrangements necessary to move all of my 91-yr old mother's belongings out of her lovely condo apartment in the independent living residence here in Fort Collins, CO. She'd already scaled down considerably when she moved here ten years ago. She'd given away furniture and dispersed items to family Back East in Virginia. So, she only moved the things that were most important to her, her favorite furniture and treasured items she'd collected over the years. In other words----HER FAVORITE STUFF.

So----that's what I was doing last week: arranging to take care of Her Stuff. Some of you may remember the late, great comedian George Carlin in his favous routine on "Stuff." You can probably find it somewhere on YouTube. If so, do yourself a favor and listen to it---you'll laugh out loud.

First, I had to ask for recommendations and then call and interview companies that would do the packing and moving. Then, I had to do the same for a storage company to put most of Her Stuff. I promised my mother that all of her favorite things would go "to family." No problem there. She's leaving everything to me and my two step-sisters, one in Michigan and another in suburban Maryland, outside Washington, DC. Anything we can not use and or find room for can be passed to our children. Again, no shortage there: I have four daughters, Judy has two daughters, and Margie has three daughters and a son.

The problem is---these things cannot immediately be picked up by family members. No one lives here in Colorado. So, it would mean a long trip by car and return with rental hauling vehicle. Or----shipping the items. And you all know how the cost of postage has risen. Long distance moving expenses are also high. Thus----the renting of a local storage unit. Fortunately I found a modern facility here in Ft Collins with excellent security, plus video cameras, on-site managers, and even climate controlled heating & cooling. Some of my mother's furniture will have to be stored and she has beautiful Ethan Allen colonial solid maple pieces. I'm going to move out some older desks from two of my upstairs guest bedrooms so I can fit her beautiful maple china closet and also her large cedar chest. And I'm moving a decorative plant stand in my living room to find room for her lovely tall mahogany and glass curio cabinet filled with her favorite glassware and ceramics she'd collected over the years. She has some stunning Carnival glass, which is a favorite of mine. Margie and Judy love the Hummel figures, so everything will go to a loving home. :)

And that brings me to packing & moving. Thank goodness, I had several people recommend a local family business that handles packing and moving within the Ft Collins environs. The furniture not going to my house will be taken to the storage unit as well as all the other necessary items. Believe me, solving the furniture problems is a piece of cake, compared to sorting through and saving/disposing of all the Other Stuff. Desk drawers filled with file folders that had to be gone through, kitchen drawers filled with odds and ends as well as useful items to be sorted. Loads of stuff in kitchen cabinets will be donated and carted over to Goodwill. I've always taken things to that organization because they hire handicapped persons to work in their facilities and all the proceeds go to help the people they serve. A truly worthy cause. And bless that moving company----they will be making several runs over to Goodwill for me, taking boxes of unnecessary/unneeded stuff as well as clothes my mother no longer uses, and other items no longer needed or useful.

I spent most of this past weekend at my mother's apartment sorting and clearing out. Six hours on Saturday and five hours on Sunday. Six big trash bags on Sat/five bags on Sun. Whew! The moving/packing managers came out today to take a look and estimate how many packers and movers they'd need. We going to schedule Packing/Moving Day for next Monday, Sept 26. We should be ready, but only if I can finish the sorting and clearing job. So, next weekend will be a repeat for me. At least I treated myself with dinner w/friends Saturday night and a movie with friends Sunday night. We saw The Debt. Excellent spy movie. Don't miss it. Next week, I'll let you know how Packing/Moving Day went. :)


Sue said...

Wow 91 yrs old!!!! How lucky are you!!! I feel for you having to downsize for your mom. It's a hard thing to do when you pick something up out of a junk drawer and go "oh I remember this. I'll just keep it and put it somewhere" Pretty soon YOU end up with that same junk drawer. What's even harder is when one elder parent goes and the other one stays in the house. Thoughts and good wishes are with you. The Debt is on my list of movies for this fall.

Nancy Jo said...

I know exactly what you are going through! This past February, I went to Kansas to clean out my sister's apartment. My brother and niece had moved her into assisted living (she's much younger than your mother), but someone had to clean out her place. The problem? My sister is/was a hoarder. In some ways my job was easier than yours in that all the trash, newspapers, junk could be thrown out. There was not much to keep. We had a 40-foot dumpster delivered to the yard and started with the trash. Once we got down to the "things" there really wasn't much to salvage. My heart goes out to you as you continue.

Barbara said...

Tough job. I remember how I kept getting bogged down in sadness and nostalgia when my husband and I went through my father's "stuff." We had taken him to a personal care home because he had Alzheimer's. What a sad time that was.

Aurian said...

Wow Maggie, what a job! I have trouble sorting my own stuff, let alone someone else's. I hope your mother is doing alright though.

Vickie said...

I don't envy you the sorting of everything. So glad the treasures are going to good homes.
I hope to not have to move again. As an Air Force brat and retired Air Force member, I've moved a lot in my life. The sifting and sorting before and after each move every 1-3 years was cleansing, but tiring. And that was just me. Now it's me, Lady K and DH and we have a lot of schtuff. We have lived in our current home for 7 years and I am good if we stay here forever.

And I now I am off to locate George Carlin on youtube. I miss him.

Maggie Sefton said...

Sue---Sorry for my tardy reply. You're right. You become much more selective in what you choose to save.

Nancy Joe---Forgive my tardy reply. Oh my goodness! Your job was way bigger than mine. A 40 foot dumpster!!

Maggie Sefton said...

Barbara---Please forgive my delayed reply. I'm so sorry about your father. Alzheimer's is a dreadful disease. My step-father had it, and my mother kept him at home as long as she could. So sad.

Aurian---Forgive my delayed reply. My mom has adjusted nicely, for which I'm exceedingly glad. And relieved. There are so many nurses and nurses aides and caregivers going up and down the hall and popping in bringing her fresh water or afternoon cookies or snacks between meals----she's got LOTS more company & she really enjoys that. :)

Maggie Sefton said...

Vickie---Forgive my delayed reply. You developed a very good attitude when traveling in the military. And you got to get rid of stuff you didn't want to along the way.

Enjoy the George Carlin videos. TAke care.