In between bouts of sorting and packing my stuff (which in many cases entails finishing started projects so I can store the equipment and supplies in their appropriate boxes), I’ve been clearing out my father’s stuff. I’m leaving the furniture in the house for now because supposedly it’s harder to sell completely empty houses, but even though my father lived sparsely, there are still many things to be sorted through and given away or boxed up for donation— medical and first aid items, bedding, towels, office supplies, dishes and kitchen tools, books, and on and on. And then there are the personal and household cleaning products that can only be tossed away. (I donated his clothes to a rescue mission a couple of months ago.)
I’m making progress on clearing out the house. In fact, most of the rooms except the linen closet and the kitchen (and my rooms, of course) have been decluttered. Nothing personal remains to destroy the fictive dream of prospective buyers. (Apparently, house hunters need to see themselves in the house, and other people’s possessions keep them from doing so.)
Strangely, after all these years, I’m falling in love with the house. I’ve appreciated the shelter, but never had any fondness for the house itself. It has been a sad place for me, the place I came to nurse my grief, to look after and then nurse my father, to deal with my abusive/alcoholic/schizophrenic brother. But as I am cleaning out the stuff in house, I am also cleaning out my “stuff” — my grief for my deceased life mate/soul mate, my despair over my brother, my complicated dealings with my father.
When my dysfunctional brother was here and banned from the house, he often expressed outrage that I lived like a millionaire and never felt grateful for the great gift I’d been given. I used to think, “No millionaire has ever had to look after both an abusive brother and a dying father, being torn between the two of them.” But what do I know. Maybe that’s what being a millionaire is all about.
Now however, I am living like a millionaire, reigning over a house full of empty rooms that speak to me of peace and comfort, of expansiveness, of new possibilities. (It is ironic that I so love empty rooms because I live in a clutter of projects-in-progress.)
Although the house is more than ten years old, there has never been a fire in either fireplace, nothing has been cut on the cutting board, the Jacuzzi has only been used a couple of times, there has never been more than one car in the three-car grease-free garage. Someone, somewhere, will be getting a lovely barely-used house to turn into a home.
And me? Well, I’ll be . . . somewhere. But I’ll always be grateful I had this time to declutter.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.
January 26, 2015 at 9:07 pm
Are you going to take a photo for memories before you go?
January 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm
No photos. I took photos of the empty rooms when I left the house I lived in with Jeff. but that was more to prove to myself that I could the things I didn’t think I could, such as move all by myself. I don’t need that sort of reassurance now. In the end, this is just a place.
January 27, 2015 at 4:58 pm
January 26, 2015 at 11:36 pm
Places can end up meaning more in your life than people. Such a house, for all its distressing associations, would be a steadfast companion. There are so few of those, and they are so hard to find. Leaving must be extremely distressing for you.
January 27, 2015 at 4:32 pm
The only thing distressing is that I don’t know where to go or what to do, but that is also exhilarating in its own way.I wish I had a place that meant something to me right now, a place I wanted to move to or go visit, but except for fleeting times like this one, places don’t mean much to me. But maybe someday . . .
January 29, 2015 at 1:36 pm
De-clutter helps to simplify your life. I am trying to do this now in my home It is amazing how much you can accumulate.