Since my father passed over a year ago, I’ve been trying to be more organized than I already am; and also purge to get rid of more things.
Cleaning out and packing up his place was a pretty difficult time for me, especially since I had never been to his home, and I never really had a relationship with my Father.
When I am sad and depressed I tend to clean and organize. These past few weeks I have found myself cleaning and organizing quite a bit more than normal.
The past 12 months have been very difficult. Having so many of his personal things in my home has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and put my Father in the forefront of my mind almost everyday.
It’s kind of strange how the mind works. In my mind over the years I had this mental picture of what I thought my Father’s house would look like. Since I had never seen pictures, and of course I had never been there.
What I actually found when I got there was, a 1981 single wide, house trailer. I believe it was actually white at one time, but had quite a bit of mold covering it from the Florida weather.
My husband, my brother and I only had a couple of days at his home last year to pack up all of his things. His home was in such bad shape, that we physically could not take everything. It was like something out of an episode of Hoarders.
To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. To top it off, it just happened to be my birthday. (Not that we really make my birthday a big deal, but that’s not how I wanted to spend it.)
Now, I had never been there a day in my life, but we had two days to look over everything in his home, get together what we we wanted to take; and then find someone to come in, haul off the rest and clean the place so we could get it ready to be sold. Two days, that is it.
Have you ever been alone inside someone’s home, for whatever reason, and had to look for something? Did you feel that you were invading their privacy? That is exactly how I felt when we started going through my Father’s things. It felt wrong, like I shouldn’t be there. When we started putting things in the ‘keep,’ ‘give away,’ and ‘throw away,’ spots on the carport, I felt even worse, when things were put in the ‘throw away’ pile. I just couldn’t let go of this feeling that it wasn’t right to get rid of his things.
It wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed. There was literally so much stuff, and it was just all over the place.
That is how my emotions felt….all over the place, and they were on overdrive. Seeing my Father’s shoes when I walked into the door, sitting down at his computer desk and seeing his eye glasses laying there by the computer keyboard, seeing his Bible sitting beside the recliner, walking into the bathroom and finding his ‘teeth’ in a container on the counter took my breath away, but when I found a draft of a letter he wrote me years ago in a small notebook near his computer …my emotions got the best of me and I was ready to get in the truck and leave.
My Father kept very much to himself. He went to church almost every Sunday, went to the store, and went places to take photographs; as he was a very talented photographer. He didn’t interact much with others on a consistent basis. He might even be what some would refer to as a hermit. I realize now that he found comfort and enjoyment in shopping. What I mean by shopping is that he was a home shopper. He bought LOTS of stuff from QVC and The Home Shopping Network.
I don’t think my Father had one of anything, he had multiples of everything. As an example when we were packing up, we found three rice cookers, two pressure cookers, two NuWave Induction Top Cookers, over ten high end cameras and many, many multiple camera lenses.
There was one entire small bedroom that we couldn’t even walk into, because it was so full of stuff, from the ceiling to the floor. All the way from one wall to the other wall it was packed so tightly with boxes, fishing poles, shelves full of old electric equipment, several filing cabinets, Christmas gift wrap, and lots and lots of boxes full of his purchase from QVC and The Home Shopping Network. I don’t even remember what all he had bought from QVC and HSN, but what he had bought, were in multiples.
Inside all the QVC and HSN boxes were multiples of whatever he bought. It’s like whatever he bought he would open the box, look at it, and put it in the room, and then go on shopping for something else.
Now, I keep going back over and over in my head wishing I could just go back there again. Go back to that single wide trailer… to have ‘another look around,’ to sit in his recliner again, to touch his things just where they were, to smell his clothes, see his Bible exactly where it was laid it last. I think I want to ‘go back’ because it was his home and it was part of him. It’s the part of him I got to experience only after he was gone, and then only for two days. I wish I would have had longer to have looked through his things. I think back now and wish I could have taken certain things with me, and am still beating myself for not taking more of his things with me when we left.
Some people say that they don’t need a loved one’s ‘things’ when they pass, because they have memories of the person they lost. Well, these ‘things’ of his I have may seem like ‘just things’ to some people, but not for me. Since I never really had a relationship with my Father, and I had never been a part of his life these ‘things’ are very precious to me. because they are the only lasting memories of him that I have. I long to have more memories of my Father.
I just wish things could have been different. I wish that he would have wanted to reach out to me more often and wanted to be more involved in mine and my brother’s lives. I have wrestled with these things in my head so much, that I actually get stress headaches sometimes because I think about it so much.
I go back and forth and beat myself up and think, ‘If only I had reached out more, and made more of an effort, maybe things would have been different, maybe he would’ve done this or maybe things could’ve been this way or that way.’
Lately I have found myself cleaning and organizing many different areas in my home, as I keep thinking back to a year ago at my Father’s house. I clean and reorganize one area, like a certain closet that hasn’t had some attention in a few months, and then I’ll move on to another area…all the while thinking to myself… ‘I cannot let my home, or myself become like my father. I do not want to let my family have to deal with what I had to deal with.’ So I keep working and working…and purging and purging. I feel like I could purge every day until I die and it still wouldn’t be good enough.
Even though it all looks ‘straightened and organized’ I still feel a total mess on the inside.