Monday, September 29, 2008

Closing Mom's House

Politics took a backseat to more important subjects today. My priority was attacking fifty five years of clutter in Mom's house withm thanks God, my sister-in-law Els, and David. It was not a job I could ever had done alone-and it's not over yet. We have just begun to fight with some closets which are fighting back. They don't want to be empty. They were perfectly happy being full of crap. And when I say crap, I am not saying it in the nicest possible way.

Over the last few months I have attempted to clean out the house little by little. I started with Mom's clothing, scarves, and jewelry. First I took things I thought sh'e like to have in Seattle, and sent them out to her. Then I looked at things that she couldn't or wouldn't wear. She had some pretty colorful pieces, which I put aside for Jordan and my niece, Devin - both of whom are as colorful as the costumes. Then I went through the not so colorful stuff - there were (and I am not exaggerating) 60 shirts, 95 pairs of pants, (all different sizes) 30 skirts, 35 dresses -fancy and plain) , 75 sweaters and sweatshirts, and 50 coats and jackets. Then I moved to shoes and purses. If I tell you she had 90 pairs of shoes and 20 pairs of boots, I am probably underestimating. But the wondrous thing was that so much of the aforementioned items still had the price tags still on them. She loved to shop and she loved to return. She was one of those people who never tried on so if she liked it she bought it and then when she got it home, she would either try it on or just hang it in the closet - hoping that at some time it might be something she would want to wear. If, by the time she got something home and didn't like it, she would return it the next day. Shopping, like cooking and freezing (we call her Delores Defrost), was her job. Her day went something like this; up by 8, make something for breakfast. Then make something for dinner - freeze it. Off to the mall (most days with Aunt Sophie). Lunch out or in, depending on the Mall and what Aunt Sophie had on her schedule. Home by 4, defrost whatever she had cooked for dinner. Dinner by 5 and then an evening of TV. When Aunt Sophie's husband was alive they aften had dinner out-or they ate whatever Delores defrosted. After he died, Mom and Aunt Sophie spent more time together so there was TV and card playing in the evening. But whatever else they did, shopping was right up there as a priority.

It was difficult to face what I was going to do with all the stuff but luckily, the Super at our NY apartment said that people in his church needed everything and anything I could give. So I packed up 12 big black garbage bags full of everything and drove them into the city. Geez, I felt great, until I returned to the house and realized that I had not even touched the basement or the attic. “OK” I thought, “I can do this.”. So I started by walking downstairs, making my way around my brother's bicycle clutter and cleaning out the freezer in the basement. There were things in that freezer that my mother bought because my father wanted them-he's been dead for twenty-one years.

Once I had tossed all the food and hauled it outside - frozen food is really heavy -- I looked at the closets. More clothes-but this stuff has been there for years and years. They have been there for so long that the hangers were stuck to the poles. It was too dusty for me to spend much time there, so decided to come back to it on a day when I could breathe without effort. Enough with the basement, I decided, and made my way back two flight of stairs to the attic.
There were no more clothes but there were pots and pans, dishes, glasses, furniture, games, old books (from my high school days), toys, and a plethora of old pictures and movies. I started to work my way through the pictures of my parents as teenagers-they were high school sweethearts and of all my loving aunts and uncles so long gone. The I couldn't do it anymore because I couldn't imagine keeping all this stuff and I couldn't imagine throwing it aways. Too much past to toss without no more than a quick goodbye.

Richard Avedon turned up in the den
The books, games, pots and pans were easier but I knew it would take me months of short visits and many tears. I decided the best thing t0o do was wait for my brother or sister-in-law to give me a hand. Els is much better about ridding us of all the junk than either my brother or I.

When we started to clean this morning we were able to work our way through almost all the rest of the closets, the attic and some of the basement. We did it with great precision and many laughs-you can't imagine the things my mother collect. She could not read a catalogue without finding something she absolutely had to have- like 10 pairs of magnifying glasses, a whack the stress away contraption, knives, grinders, and fancy frames, are only the beginning.

We did find the dress and veil from my first wedding as well as 9 fur coats-yes nine and none of them we bought by my mother-but that's another blob. The good news is we have a week to do it. The bad news is that once it's done the house will be gone and all those memories probably soon forgotten. But it's a New Year for the Jews, and a new life for this house we love so well. We're just sayin....Iris


raymond said...

... you really do have amazing stories, and avedon to boot. - cheers.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this why they invented Estate Sales, even for the living?

One person's junk is another's treasure.

Would have loved to witnessed Avedon's Estate Sale.

A nickel here, a dime there, it all adds up. At least it'd pay for the pizza after the clean up. HA!

W who just cleared out the barn for Donna's studio, and needs to buy more Tylenol.

Billie said...

After a week, my sister and I had barely made a dent in the family home. We kept stopping to remember and talk. Finally a family friend came in and kept us on track.

Do you want this? No? okay so it goes in the trash, Goodwill or wherever.

Fortunately for our kids, we have moved two times in the last 10 years leaving the house that we lived in for 35 years far behind. Now we are in Mexico with stuff that will not have any meaning to the kids so all they will have to deal with is a 10x10 storage unit back in the States. And yes we know we should get rid of that stuff but I can't quite part with it yet.

You have my best wishes.

Seth said...

That sucks.

Anonymous said...

All of that and you still did'nt find the flipping penguin...I hope he is well - wherever his stubby itsy bitsy tuxedo'd body is(probably sunning in the French Riviera-with a wine cooler).

Not an easy jump to make for you skies.


Anonymous said...

Mozeltov - cleaning out and selling a house in this market is something to celebrate. Go have one of those martinis you love. It is the New Year!

kimrennin said...

Assuming that the feds are indeed going to cut rates significantly at the end of this month, should my mom wait until after that to refinance her home mortgage?My mom is about to refinance her home loan -- but with all the talk of the feds cutting rates, it made me wonder if she should wait?
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Retired Belles Dad said...

Seems like the sinister advertising creeps have found your blog, too bad! First there was Payday Loans on "That Fall(ing) Time of The Year", and now this one above.

You've long stated that you wished blobbing was more profitable. Why not charge the morons for advertising space!!!

Anonymous said...

It is hard to be dispassionate. Good luck with the final act.

Anonymous said...

I'll always remember going to Aunt Rosie's "beauty parlor" in the basement ! For me it was the "pixie cut' with the tape on the back of my head to keep the curls down .
A sad day for me too ! Thanks , I .
Love, Tracy

Iris and David said...

I could part with many things but not the hairdryer... I wish I knew how to charge for advertising I could make a small well tiny fortune.

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Ron Tipton said...

Having just spent the last three days cleaning out ONE of Mom's bedrooms, I can identify with your blog posting. I am exhausted and yet I still have more to go.