And When I Die, And When I'm Gone


When Wingman died, my sons and I went through the big bin of things that held his most treasured mementos, looking for anything that might represent him at his wake.  There were envelopes of ticket stubs from concerts he attended (Chicago and Bruce Springsteen at Madison Square Garden in 1973 for $6.50!), a bag of rings from bubble gum machines, the name off the back of his high school football jersey, and a HUGE stack of letters from his first girlfriend.


Feeling a little weird including the letters, I asked "What should I do with these?" None of them were in the least bit curious in even looking at them and replied in unison "GET RID OF THEM".  So, that piece of his history, from a girl who ended almost every letter with "Well, I have to go and wash my hair" is now sitting in a landfill. I know all about the hair washing because I read every last letter. Twice.

The ticket stubs, rings and jersey name remain, as well as bins of my treasures from years past.  Well, from decades past.  And before my kids are faced with the task of having to go through it like I did with Wingman, I decided that this is the week to tackle it. It must have something to do with all this snow because my friend Amy did the same thing last week. I brought out two bins from the spare bedroom and dumped the contents on the kitchen table. The three from the garage sat on the kitchen floor waiting their turns to be scrutinized.

Back in January 2012, my New Year's resolution was to get rid of that same number of items in one year, or 5.5 things a day.  I was pretty smug with recycling my Chinese soup containers and flower vases.  Even more so with the magazines articles pulled and never read on weight loss, exercise and cutting clutter.  But it was that freaking storm that made 2012 items a breeze.  Between the hundreds of Wingman's albums covered in mud, the two bookcases of soggy paperbacks and the hundreds of pounds of wet, muddy furniture, I beat the record with weeks to spare.  One of those thrown-away books was a personal favorite called "River God" by Wilbur Smith which chronicled the life of an Egyptian slave to a Pharaoh.  Besides the storyline about love, it accurately described a Pharaoh's burial, and all the material possessions the Pharaoh required to take to the afterlife.

Back to the bins. My brothers brought over some of their laborers to help toss the flood damaged stuff.  What they considered bad, they tossed to the curb.  I followed behind them shrieking "I can save that-don't throw that away!" And into bins stuff went.  And into the storage trailer the bins went.  And when I moved back in, the bins followed me to my storm afterlife.

What I've unearthed has been like opening an insane King Tut's tomb.  Nothing that could possibly be useful in the afterlife or mean anything to anyone. But I saved them for some reason. Things like:

The adoption certificates for Marlena Mala and Paxton Webster-our Cabbage Patch dolls, as well as the birth announcements for the three My Twin dolls I had made for the boys about 15 years ago.  The Cabbage Patch dolls are long since gone, but the twin dolls now sit in the spare bedroom like Manny, Moe and Jack.

About 75 batteries.  Really.   With "use by" dates back to 1995. There should have been a hole in the bottom of the bin from the corroded ones, but that was protected by the piles of school concert programs and Playbills which are now ruined by battery acid.

Buttons and thread.  Little packets that come with clothing that I could never find when I needed the replacement, so I bought a whole set of new buttons or threw the item away.  Lots of buttons that say "Oshkosh" on them which clash with my current wardrobe.

Screws, nails, picture hangers and other orphaned work bench stuff that hasn't been needed in two years but was apparently too good to throw away.  But no white screws for the dozen or so outlet covers that are hanging precariously without one. So even with the pile, I have to buy more screws.

Safety Pins.  Safety pins closed safely and safety pins open to stab.  Safety pins pinned onto other safety pins.  Enough safety pins that if they weren't rusted and were attached end to end would make the world's biggest safety pin ball.  And as many loose straight pins.  

Cosmetics and personal care items like rusted safety razors that obviously aren't very safe anymore.  Dental floss and Chap Sticks up the wazoo.  Mascara more than two years old (sideline: guys, don't use mascara that's more than six months old or risk getting an infection).  And orange nail polish which I have absolutely no recollection of ever buying much less saving.

The only easy bin to justify was the salvaged (and carefully washed by my mother,) bin of favorite boys baby clothes, somewhere between 25 and 28 years old that none of my granddaughters can wear.  That went right into the spare bedroom closet.  I'll put pictures of them wearing the outfits in there so they will know there was a time when I found them cute and adorable.

Old habits are hard to break, and even though I made a real effort to purge the piles, there's still one plastic bin filled with what I couldn't bear to part with yet.

So it's back to the garage, sitting up high enough on a shelf that the next big storm won't damage the contents.

And low enough that I can get to it readily to add more treasures.





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