The Aftermath of Five Frenzied Weeks

Dear Reader – In my last post, I left you with our “old” house empty and boxes everywhere in the “new” place,” having returned from a week in Wisconsin with family.

I promised to tell you about the aftermath of the five frenzied weeks we moved from our home of forty-three years. (Read about it HERE).

The word “aftermath” is used to describe significant events, often destructive and life-changing. It certainly was significant. It was life-changing. And yes, it was destructive (a tearing apart) in the dismantling of our belongings and moving them a mile and a half away – discarding many of our possessions in the process. Our living space was cut almost in half with less open space.

We still miss the three-sided fireplace, the warm oak floor, and the oak trim most of all.

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(the following is cobbled together from journaling entries and/or social media posts. and was written in December 2023. Since then it has languished in the depths of my computer until now.)

It’s been six days since we watched Todd and Melanie’s white rental van drive away to the airport where they get on a plane and return to Oregon.  As always, I wave until they are out of sight, filled with joy for the time we had and sadness at their leaving. It will be a long two years until we have the opportunity for all of us to be together again.

We are tired, so tired. We stumble around mumbling, sometimes incoherently to ourselves and to each other, figure out what to eat for dinner, and fight off the urge to run away to Starved Rock, because . . . the boxes still in our living room. Maybe next week we’ll run away to Starved Rock. There we will find the the order of beauty, evidence of God’s goodness.  We did straighten up the living room today.

(As of this posting in the first week of February 2024 we have yet to “run away” to Starved Rock. We did take a trip to Haystack Beach at Canon Beach, Oregon when we visited our kids in Oregon last fall. It looks like we’ll be going to Starved Rock sometime this spring or summer.)

 

Meanwhile . . .  About those boxes we are left with and the questions we ask of the items residing in all those boxes if we expect to fit ourselves into this space. Questions like this one:

1. “Do I love you enough to give something else away to keep you, because seeing you makes me happy?”

Like my mother’s brown and white ceramic chicken creamer I grew up with and she wouldn’t give me until she died – because her grandmother gave it to her as a graduation gift and it made her happy to see it on her kitchen window shelf. Now it makes me happy, on my kitchen window shelf.

I do feel pretty proud of the fact that I have kept the Baby Tears growing in this chicken. My mother tried so many times to do the same and, well, let’s say, it didn’t work so well. I have a hunch she would think it was great, but “How in the world . . .” she’d ask.

2. Sorry, while I still love you, are you willing to go make someone else happy? There isn’t room for you here, no matter how much I like you. Don’t feel bad. It’s not about you.” Until you have been there, you don’t get it. Be patient with those of us “downsizing.

3. “Does the frequency of your use, merit the real estate you’ll take up?

This applies to items more often than I’d like – things that are fun to use and make life easier.”  Example: We had a large air popper. However, the people who lived here left a small juicer. Considering the “amount of real estate” taken, the small juicer stays. The large air popper goes. There’s always microwave popcorn for the rare times we eat it.

Questions like these are important as we move from a two-story house with a full basement to our three-bedroom cement slab ranch home. What will fit in this next phase of our life? (We are 76 and 78).  It’s about choices.  Sometimes it comes down to keeping the most precious of the precious.

Garage Sale, Tonka Trucks, Vehicles, and Marble Chasers:

I cry a few tears at the garage sale as I watch the middle-aged man tuck the big yellow metal Tonka dump truck under his arm and wait for Galen to take his money. Too late now to change my mind. I wish we had kept it.

It marks the end of an era. Even the grands have outgrown big yellow Tonka dump trucks. Yes, it’s a new beginning for a new family. That kind of makes me feel better . . .  but not much. I’d rather have Tonka Trucks in my family a little bit longer.

I keep a few matchbox cars, a couple of tractors, and small emergency vehicles that tell you to “get out of the way we are coming through.”

We still have the marble chaser. And the wooden truck with blocks my Mother-in-law bought for the boys.

My grandmother kept a few toys for great-grands who came to visit. I am nowhere close to grands bringing their children to my house, but still . . .

If you are reading this, and you are someone who can give stuff like this away without a care, just move along. Don’t bother telling me “It’s just stuff.”

 Connections – so many connections

I hold in my hands things that connect me to my Mother, yet I have too many things to keep them all. Today it was my mother’s old wooden “jewelry box” most likely from the 1930s/1940s. As a young Mennonite girl, she didn’t wear jewelry, although she did in later years. She kept it for many years until I asked her for it.

At some point, my oldest son wanted a box for odds and ends he was saving and I passed it on to him. It turned up again when we were moving. I handed it to him. He took the “stuff” he wanted and left the box on the counter already crowded with other “stuff.” And there it sat until today.

I know this box is not my mother. It connects me to her, but so do so many other things.  I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and some days like today, put an item aside for another day.

Weeks later my mother’s box finds a new home…with us!

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Dear Reader,

That’s all for now. More musings to come. Perhaps you’ll find them helpful if you have yet to prepare for a time of life when you won’t have room for so many things. Do your children a favor and leave less for them to sort through. We let go of a lot of things in those “Five Frenzied  Weeks.” There is more to go.

Carol, (my brother Gordon’s wife) lived in their home for 25 years before he died in 2005. She continued to live there for ten more years and then decided to sell. “I spent the entire year before I moved, touching everything I owned and made a decision about it”, she told me. She highly endorses “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” a lovely little book that is not as dreary as it seems. 

I wish we had started earlier. There are reasons we didn’t which aren’t necessary to mention here. Still, until everything became unhinged last spring and summer, we thought we had the next couple of years. We didn’t… (you can see why from the most recent post). For where we were in our lives at that moment in time it’s how it had to be. We made it and have lived to tell about it. Over the past weeks we are feeling more at home. Thanks for coming along on the journey with me. 

 

1 Reply to “The Aftermath of Five Frenzied Weeks”

  1. Thank you for sharing. I am downsizing and finding it difficult- nearly impossible! Intellectually I recognize the need for it but my emotional status to hold every memory is unreasonable! I am finding strength and comfort in your words!

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