I am not alone.
The cyber mountain of emails I have received in response to my recent series about clearing out and updating my parents’ home of 50 years proves it.
The response has eclipsed reaction to any topic I have written about in nine years.
That includes the time I called concrete “cement” (Or was it concrete for cement?) and the time I ticked off all the picture framers in America by advising readers to frame art themselves.
Many of you wrote to say, “Thank you, sister; I am right there with you.”
Others shared their journeys, insider advice and resolutions for sorting through years of stuff.
We universally agreed: Clearing out a parent’s home is physically, mentally and emotionally overwhelming, and it blindsides first timers.
Here are some of the stories you shared:
I have cleaned out two homes, for my grandmother and parents. They did some things that helped. They put tape and a name on the back of any art or item when there was a particular person they wanted the art to go to. This was also done for the charms on my grandmother’s bracelet. I am now 64 and we have been in our house 25 years. It’s time for me to carry on the tradition.
Pam Winans, Raleigh News & Observer
I did this for my parents, and then again for my mother-in-law, who hadn’t thrown away a piece of paper in years. I now think twice before buying any household stuff or decorative doo-dads. When I look at my grandmother’s butter churn or tuck magazines into one of my parents’ stone crocks, I think of them.
I hope my boys will someday take things for their own households that trigger good memories. Thus, I also vow to write down the family history that goes with special furnishings. It does matter.
As for my wedding dress, I donated it to a high school drama department to use in plays. I wasn’t going to see a size 10 again unless I was in a coma for a year, and because I have three boys, I have a better chance of seeing my dress on stage than coming down the aisle.
Debbie Williams, Orlando Sentinel
Easter Sunday I met my parents at a restaurant for lunch. My mom comes up to me and puts an envelope in my hand and says, “I need these back.” In the envelope were two of your articles about cleaning out your parents’ home. They’ve hit a chord with my mom, who is 72.
Mary Leigh Howell, Greensboro News & Record
An estate sale does not have to be a do-it-yourself project. We hired a professional. It may seem counterintuitive to pay someone 35 to 50 percent of the proceeds of a sale, but emotional attachment to family treasures can make what should be a fairly straightforward task difficult for family members. And if a professional prices Dad’s beer stein at $5 and takes half the proceeds, that may be more than the dollar you were going to sell it for. The best part is family members can be elsewhere during the sale, and nobody has to watch treasured items go. Katherine Bell, Contra Costa Times
In addition to dealing with my parents’ stuff that I put in that “someday” pile, I am dealing with all of our things as we start to move from our home of 25 years. Having two adult non-sentimental children makes it easier to pitch items. No one cares about that old whatever from Aunt Whoseywhatsit.
I have weeded through things, saved our “someday” boxes. When we land in our new place, we plan to take the boxes, one at a time, and go through them together, share the memories, then get a bonfire going. The memories are what we hold onto, and once the sharing is done, we are free.
Joyce Spoolstra, The Times – Indiana
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