family, personal

Saying goodbye to a home

This past week, I went back to Florida to do a few clean up things for my Mom, like turning her car in. Part of my “itinerary” was to clean up the house. When Joyce and I moved Mom back, all we had time to do was clean out the perishable food, grab her clothes and some personal stuff, sending six UPS boxes home and bringing every suitcase she had with us. Thanks American Airlines, for free checked bags for Platinum customers!

In between trips, the realtor moved anything personal or not desirable for staging into the garage. So when I got back, I was faced with a manageable list of stuff to deal with:

  • The rest of the food
  • The remainder of her clothes
  • Personal items – mementos, etc.
  • House “stuff” like cleaning supplies, décor items, etc.

You would have thought food wouldn’t be a big deal, given it was just my Mom…but unfortunately people with dementia or related issues don’t remember what they have or don’t have when they go grocery shopping, so I ended up taking several large contractor bags of food to Goodwill, and threw away several other contractor bags of food.

Clothes wasn’t a problem, but the funny part is that as I was filling a bag with shoes, from one of those hanging shoe storage gizmos, when I found a set of car and house keys. Nice hiding place, wish I had found those several hours before when I had turned the car in…

Personal items took a while. My mom and dad kept a lot of mementos, pictures, cards, etc. And then journaled and scrapbooked and filed it all. Now I know where I get it from. I found some cool stuff though that we somehow missed when we were with my mom, like a whole album of stuff from her high school, and the book of my grandpa’s (dad’s side) poems. He was a great poet, also where my dad and I both got our writing bug I guess. And of course my mom had stashed even more of our school reports, pictures, and notes from when my brother and I were young.

There was plenty of other stuff too. So in between some work calls, I went for about 6-7 hours just filling contractor bags and boxes of stuff. Sent one box home for keepsakes, took 20 contractor bags to the dumpster or Goodwill, and several items were freestanding or were in regular garbage bags. My lower back was rightfully sore for a couple of days after.

The house still has all the furniture, if a buyer doesn’t want it I will get an estate sale person to deal with it. And I never did really get the garage cleaned out. That’s going to either be another trip or just having the estate sale person clean it out.

I rewarded myself for my hard work with a nice blackened grouper meal and a beer. Maybe the last seafood meal I’ll ever have in this little outpost of Florida. But not before a last wistful moment in the house, now almost empty, that my parents lived for almost 20 years. A house I may never see again. They spent the best years of their lives in that house, and for that I’m thankful. I said a quick prayer and hello to my dad, and looked forward to getting back and giving mom a hug. They definitely got the most out of that house as a home, and I am glad I was able to see it one more time.


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