When I was in college, I had a roommate who lost her father our freshman year. The guy had been the baseball coach at the high school in her small town. He was extremely popular, good-looking, friendly, and had the all-American family…3 good looking and well-mannered kids, a lovely wife, etc. During our first semester at school, he died suddenly of an aneurysm.
Three years later, my friend invited a group of us back to her hometown for a weekend. I can still remember feeling…I don’t know, creeped out, I guess, in my 19 year old way, at how everything in the house was exactly as it had been the moment he passed away. Exactly as it had been, with the addition of a large table that had been made into a sort of shrine to the man with pictures, trophies, and medals from his coaching successes. The lovely all-American family who once came home to this place, had stopped, it seemed. My friend’s mother walked around all ghostly and quiet…and it all just seemed so very, very sad.
Grief is such a strange emotion…or bunch of emotions. There are no rules or guidelines to follow to make things straightforward and easy. I was talking with my mother a day or so after H died, and she said to me, “You will want to make this YOUR house over time, you know, and that will be ok.”
I am a cleaner-outer. I like simple, clean lines and clutter makes my brain go into high stress OMGWTF mode. H, on the other hand, was a hoarder. LOL He knew there was a use for everything if you just stacked it, put it in a bucket with 100 other everythings, or hid it in oh, say, the alcove under the basement stairs. He was also the true Boy Scout, always prepared for the latest crisis. Which is why both of our snowblowers were filled to the brim with gasoline on the warm, rainy day in the middle of April when he passed away.
And so the Cleaning Out has been going-on in the last few weeks. No big surprises, it is all pretty much classic H with many drawers full of this and lots of drywall buckets full of that. It is kind of an odd job, especially since he was gone so quickly he didn’t have time to let me know about the $90 he had stashed between his t-shirts. He also didn’t have time to get rid of the lawnmower, leaf blower, and weed whacker that don’t work. He did, however, seem to have plenty of time to purchase and store under the stairs no less than 4 table saws, 10 nail guns, 2 air compressors, 7 cordless drills, a plastic storage bin filled to the brim with switch plates, and numerous other items I have not yet inventoried. Further, the day before his accident, he had gleefully brought home a sink and toilet to be used at our cottage. He had unloaded them into the garage right next to the door to the house. This, I suppose, is so that with equal glee he could strategically position himself on the toilet with a newspaper when I drove up the driveway on my lunch hour. Sadly, the sink/toilet have not moved from their original spot. Guests think I have a garage-potty thing going on, which makes that visual of H on the jon ever more amusing. That alone makes it all worthwhile even if it costs me $90 to have someone haul the bulk of the stuff away.