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Cleaning Out: A Dreaded Chore

cartoon-lady-closetHusband said, “It’s going to be really hot tomorrow. Too hot to be outside. How about we clean out and sort stuff at the store basement?” His words pierced my heart. My stomach. The basement where we’d banished stuff for 35 years. Stuff too big to stick under a bed or hang on the garage wall or fit on a shelf in our home storage closet. And stuff I couldn’t emotionally let go, but didn’t have a current use for.

“Can we do it in two hours?” I mumbled. I’ve purposefully avoided the basement for years. Husband regularly takes things to and from there, but I’ve held to an old theory: out of sight, out of mind.

“Probably. We’ll make three piles.” Everyone knows the piles. “Keep, trash, sell or give away.”

My inner voice said, “How about you just take care of it? I don’t care what you do with stuff.” But I heard myself say, “Okay. Sounds like a plan.” I knew it had to be done sometime and some work is planned for that space so it’s logical to clean it out.

The next morning, I awoke two hours earlier than normal. I thought of stuff. What about Granny’s quilting frames? The ones that hung in her bedroom for decades and she used to quilt the many, many quilts that my family and I love. Long wooden boards that haven’t been used in forty years. And my big blue bike, my 10th birthday present? And what’s there from my children’s childhood?

“I’m not looking forward to this,” I told Husband as we sipped coffee.

“Me, either. It has to be done.” We agreed the sell and give away pile included stuff that Son and Daughter would get first dibs on. That took off some pressure.

Thankfully, the first items we came across were easily sorted. Sell or give: draperies from a previous house and a baby-kicking musical toy that none of our Grands liked. Trash: a baby bed that doesn’t meet safety standards. A county fair stuffed animal that a live animal had obviously made a home in. A basketball with a slit.

I spotted wheeled toys. Keep: A red toddler tricycle and Son’s childhood bike. Give away: my blue bike. I rationalized it hasn’t been ridden in 40 years and no one rides bikes like it and it might end up being trashed. Trash: Big wheel with wobbly wheels. If it had an odometer it would’ve logged 100,000 miles.

The sell or give pile grew. University of Georgia beanbag. Hot wheels plastic carrying case. Quart canning jars. Pepsi Coal hanging lamp. Kitchen chairs. Golf clubs. And much, much more.

After two hours, we hauled a small truckload of stuff to the Putnam County recycling and garbage center on Dacco Quarry Road. Slinging trash into dumpsters felt good. Almost cathartic.

At home, sitting on the back porch swing, I dusted 100-piece jigsaw puzzles boxes. My Grands will laugh at Popeye, Mickey Mouse, and Road Runner. I sorted through my deceased parents’ Christmas tree decorations and divided them into three stacks: one for each of their grandchildren.

A chore I’d dreaded is done and lighten my emotionally attachments. Daughter wants my blue bike and the kitchen chairs. Son wants his UGA beanbag and my dad’s golf clubs. A friend took canning jars. Everything isn’t out of the basement, but it’s all sorted.

Granny’s quilting frames will fit under a king size bed or hang as art on a bedroom wall. And Son and Daughter get to sort boxes labeled ‘School Memories.’ It’s their stuff.


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