I have a walk out basement that is finished except for the laundry/storage room. It’s always been a bit cluttered; you know that space that just seems to acquire anything without a permanent home. It got really out of control when we moved my dad in along with 2/3 of my parents’ belongings. In January, I was really appalled when I walked in and noticed that my guys had just tossed all the boxes of Christmas decorations (including the tree) on top of all the junk. I was about to do some screaming when I realized they had done this because they couldn’t get to the closet that houses the Christmas stuff. How they got it out in the first place is the real mystery here. I was looking at 250 square feet of a mess that the T.V. show Hoarders would have loved–quite literally, stuff was piled on top of stuff from floor to ceiling–and that mess had begun to trickle through my entire house.
It’s taken six months but the room is FINALLY decluttered. Can you hear the relief in my words? There’s room to DANCE now and my son and I have had a few dart games in there and holy shillelagh!! With the energy change from this completed project, I couldn’t stop there . . . I’ve since gone through 97% of the house. I feel as though I have my home back after three years of sharing it with my parents’ stuff and it feels so good!
Going through your loved ones things is a tough job. I got stuck doing it by myself for both my mom and then my dad. Lots of things were boxed up and stored in that laundry room because we were in a hurry after Mom died and I simply couldn’t decide what to do with most of it in that raw state of grief. Three years later, I’m not so attached to bowls and artwork and . . . well, crap, my mother owned. I’m still clinging to things she made like crocheted afghans and embroidered linens plus several photo albums I still need to go through but otherwise, I was able to let go of almost everything else knowing I’m letting go of STUFF, not my mother.
Once my parents’ things were gone, it was time to go through our own junk. I have to say, this resulted in some unexpected and surprising finds – some not so nice and others were totally delightful. Here’s a few:
This is yours truly. On the back of this picture, my mom had written, “Mari, dad carried this in his wallet for years, that’s why it looks so worn out. That smile is just like Eric’s.” :) Eric is my oldest surviving son. I’m guessing Mom sent this to me after he was born, that baby that took years to get and the whole family was a little gaga over him. I love that shiny bright look in my eyes.
Eric and Chad
Another classic photo find. These are my babies at grandma’s. On the back, Mom had written, “Look at that monkey go!” I have no idea what Eric may have done to Chad to get him to climb up the chair like that but it looks hilarious. These boys are now 27 and 25 1/2! I found so many fab photos that were just tossed into this room. My winter project will be to sort them all out and do something with them. No more crazy photos littering up the joint!
Gone With the Wind
I found a very old copy of Gone With the Wind. I remember my husband buying this for me in a used bookstore many years ago. He wrote this note on the flyleaf, “Mari, with lots of love for being a great sport.” I have no idea what I was a great sport about! Note the date – just over 20 years ago. Curious! When I asked him about it he said, “Do not remember ol sport.” I think he was channeling his inner Sean Connery.
Best Find of the Great Declutter Project 2014
This was probably the best find of all, at least in my husband’s opinion. It looks like a corvette but it’s really a decanter! It was holding about a pint of SEALED whiskey. This was a gift to my husband from his mom in 1987!! 27 year old Jim Beam. We spent about an hour on google trying to see if whiskey like this could spoil but everything we found said if the seal wasn’t broken, it was probably fine. Greg opened it, smelled it, poured a little into a glass and examined it for yuck . . . seemed okay so he swallowed it and waited 24 hours to see if he’d be sick. All was well so he nursed this juice for a week. He’s still alive so this gets the best find of the Great Declutter Project of 2014!
It was a toss up for worst find between old horrible cat food in the cabinet next to the washer (the cat died in 2008!) and this gem:
Greetings from the Hole in the Wall gang
We have four large bookcases in our living room with a zillion baskets on the tops. The baskets were filthy so I took them all down to wash and possibly chuck some when I found this lovely hole in the wall/ceiling. There was something wonky with the gutter right there and well, at some point the water leaked through and caused this damage. We have no idea when it happened as this was totally dried out. Oy vey! Mr. Fix-it got right to it and now we need to repaint the living room (needed it anyway) but the crazy hole is gone. He fixed this right after he fixed the dining room light I broke with overzealous cleaning:
OVERZEALOUS CLEANING GETS SLOVENLY HOUSEWIFE IN TROUBLE. Dateline Nevada, July 30, 2014 . . . . As amateur housekeeper, despite being married 28+ years, Maribeth Doerr removed the 4 light bulbs and 4 globes of her dining room chandelier (Note: chandelier is stretching the description. It’s really a hanging light with nothing chandy about it.) The fixture including chainlink hanger were dutifully cleaned to a sparkling state (Note: sparkling only in low light on a cloudy day). When she attempted to replace the globes, it became obvious that one socket had been stripped during the removal process and now hung rather low compared to the other globes/bulbs. Gregory Doerr, said husband of the amateur unhousekeeping wife, will now have to remove the entire fixture after shutting off the electricity to that room and attempt a repair. Considering it’s Hot August Nights week in Reno where Mr. Doerr is himself a fixture with his 1965 Pontiac GTO, the repair will have to wait. Mr. Doerr was overheard muttering to his German Shepherd that this is what happens when ze wife attempts to clean where no one has cleaned before.
Between the books, VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs and cassettes we’ve donated to the libary plus bags of coats, jackets, and games given to Goodwill, we have empty shelves for the first time! And I LOVE that. The flow of energy around the house is so free now. The next step is the BIG CLEAN which will keep me busy for another six months but as much as I resist housework, the effort and result just feels so good – finally. My house is my own again.
If you have boxes of stuff from your loved ones and you don’t know what to do with it, my best advice is give yourself some time. I really needed to wait before I got rid of everything; it was too heart-wrenching to do it all at once. For me, I finally reached a point where the clutter bothered me so much, it was painful to not go through the stuff. Once I got started and could FEEL the results (besides see the results), I was very motivated to keep going. Doing it in spurts seemed to work for awhile so do what feels right for you. And if you have to go it alone like I did, be really kind to yourself while you’re doing this work. Play your favorite music and give yourself permission to cry or feel however you feel. This isn’t easy work!
And now . . . I’m going to go dance through my empty laundry room, throw a few darts, and then tackle the disgusting spots in my dining room carpet.