Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cleaning Out Mom's Bedroom

One of the reasons I left for my Mom's home in Pennsylvania last Thursday was to house sit for my brother Isaac while he and his son (Isaac, III) visited our Mom in Greenville, SC.  She's staying with my youngest brother John and his wife Barbara.  The other reason was to help clean her house of the accumulated clutter of 52 years.  My Mom is a hoarder.

We three brothers convinced her to spend the winter at John's home in the South because we didn't think she would make it through another winter.  In retrospect, we made a very wise decision. 

We promised her that she could return to her home of 52 years come this spring, if only for a visit.  Unfortunately, she is too weak to make the trip to Pennsylvania.  So we decided to clean her house out now since it is very unlikely she will return to her home. 

Brother John was up earlier in the month.  He and Isaac cleaned out her bedroom and Pop's bedroom.  They boxed up a lot of her things and marked the boxes as to the disposition when the inevitable happens.

John took one look at the "back bedroom" (as my Mother called it) and closed the door.  He just wasn't gong to tackle that room.  This is the same room that John and Isaac shared when they were going to school.  Now you can hardly get the door open because there is so much clutter.

I would provide a picture but I'm at my Mom's computer and it doesn't have the software for me to download the pictures.  However, I did take some video with my Flip video camera which I am able to take snapshots of individual frames.  Those are the pictures in this blog.

John told me he left that room for me.  Thank you brother John!

I started to clean that room out Thursday.  I hardly made a dent.  I still couldn't see the floor.

Yesterday I was determined to see the color of the carpet in that room.  After a big push, I cleared out enough to see that it is green.  I was exhausted last night.  I slept like I was dead.

I rose from the dead early this morning thinking about cleaning out that room.  I generally sleep well so you know it's a problem if I'm lying in bed thinking about cleaning out "the back room."

I attacked that room with all my strength today.  I finally made signification headway.  So much so that I could see most of the rug.

 I loaded up the back of my Subaru with several boxes of donations for the Goodwill store in Morgantown, PA.  It was late this Saturday afternoon and I was afraid they would be closed by the time I got there. 

When I rolled into their parking lot I saw that they were not closed and in fact an employee was rolling out two empty donation bins.  What a welcome sight.

I quickly unloaded the back of my car and loaded Mom's "stuff", including the last afghan she was working on (unfinished) into the donation bin.  The Goodwill employee asked me if I wanted a receipt.  I did not. 

A heaving burden has been lifted from my shoulders.  There is still much work to do. 

We've boxed up all of Mom's clothes.  I sent her a large box down by mail this morning.  The woman at the Post Office asked me how I wanted the box delivered.  Overnight would cost $130.00.  $130.00?  Not likely.  She told me that three day delivery would cost $49.00.  Nup.  Not likely either.  I settled for Parcel Post which cost me $19.00.  Mom's fake fur coat is in there along with several of her favorite warm and snuggy nightgowns which I know she misses.  I threw in a couple of her small teddy bears to go along for the ride. 

Cleaning out Mom's bedroom today caused me to think this very obvious question:  who is going to clean out my bedroom when that time comes for me? 

An interesting thought because I have no children, Bill is thirteen years older than me and I assumed he will check out before I will.  I have one nephew and four nieces and several grand nephews and grand nieces.  I don't see any of them cleaning out my "stuff." 

But hey, I'm not going to worry about it now.  I have a family reunion to put on May 16th.


  1. As my Father-in-law is in a nursing home, going down hill, he is never going to return to his house. And my mother-in-law died last autums. So Maggie and her brothers are deciding what to do about the place. Maggie's in charge of sorting through everything. She's only going in every now and again, but it's very emotionally draining

  2. Keep plugging. You're doing a great job.

    You wondered who would clean out your room. That would be your executor. I've left a cash entitlement to my executor specifically for the time and trouble it will take.

  3. Ron, this must certainly be an emotional time. Having lost all my close family members, Mom, Dad brothers, sister. It's just tuff to deal with. Especially when the old homestead is empty and quiet filled only with memories.

  4. Yes it is Mike. You understand having been through it yourself.

    I just finished another day of cleaning, this time I attacked the attic and the sun room. Every room holds memories and surprises. I really should be saving some of this "stuff" but when I found an old checker board I used to play checkers with as I kid I can't help but put that aside. I spent many a happy time playing checkers when I was a kid.

    I have to sift through everything. She has pictures mixed in with just plane trash like circulars and doctor's bills. Very stressful. I hope this is the last clean out job I ever have to do.


  5. Bob,

    You're right! I didn't even think of that. Bill is my executor now. I plan to outlive him. After him it is my brother John. Poor John, he was already up here cleaning out Mom's bedroom and Pop's bedroom (I'm cleaning out the back bedroom.)
    After what I'm seeing now I plan to leave a clean and organized residue of my life. Of course I still have too much for Bill's taste but that's me. Son of a Pack Rat.

  6. Kim,
    You understand. Not only is cleaning out the remants of a loved one's life physical draining it is also very emotionally draining. I am exhausted at the end of each day. I only planned to do a few hours at a time but I keep finding new surprises which awaken old memories of my previous life.
    My Mom isn't in a nursing home but she could just as easily be in one. My brother John and his wife are doing a Herculean task of taking care of Mom 24/7.
    My brother Isaac and his son Isaac, III will return in a few days and I can go back to my normal life. I will be back though. There is so much to do yet.
    After our family reunion next month I plan to visit Mom myself. Hopefully she will still be there. I knew these days were coming. I have seen so many of my friends and relatives go through the same thing. It is my turn now.

  7. Anonymous9:08 AM

    This post really brings back memories, Ron. It took me from April thru Sept. to clean out 45 years of my pack rat parents. My Mom was always at my side as she was living with me at that time due to the death of my step dad. Of course her dementia was full blown by then & she saw a reason to keep everything. It was an uphill battle to get thru each day. My two sisters decided they didn't have the patience to deal with it or her. They just wanted to reap the rewards of the settlement after the auction. The outbuildings were full of everything you can imagine as he was in the construction business. My husband kept the couple acres cut & weeded & help me sort thru all the tools, etc.

    We have already started to downsize. What we don't absolutely need we are either giving to our sons or donating. There will still be a lot left for them to sort thru because we are antique collectors but hopefully these items will increase in value
    as time goes on.

    You have my blessing as you go about doing what children do for their parents in their time of need.


  8. Fran,
    Since I posted about cleaning out one of my Mother's bedrooms (my brothers cleaned out the other two - we always share!), I have received several comments from others who have experienced the same situation.
    I finally finished cleaning out and organizing that Back Bedroom (as she always called it, it was her storage room) this morning. I wanted to finish it before my brother returned this afternoon from visiting our Mom in South Carolina.
    I must say the room looks great! I didn't realize how big the room was. Isaac will like that. One thing about both of my brothers, neither of them are pack rats. However, I do have some of the pack rat gene in me.

    After seeing and experiencing years and years of accumulation, I plan to clean out a lot of my "stuff" that I don't need when I get home. I am a sentimental person so I do keep a lot of things but at least I am organized. I don't have heaps of trash on the floor with valuable mementos like pictures in with the trash.
    I can't imagine what you went though. Months and months of cleaning out with your Mother beside you all the time. I couldn't do it with my Mother here. That would have been impossible.
    One thing I am so thankful for though is that my brothers and I are all on the same page. We have no disagreements about anything concerning Mom. As to the financial, I was helping her for awhile, then Isaac was while she was living with him. Now that she is living with John he is taking care of all her needs. All three of us have a power of attorney and we agreed a long time ago that there would be no friction. We have seen too many families torned apart, sometimes permanently, over something as unimportant as money. My Mother asked us long ago not to fight over money and we have honered her wishes. I will always remember her saying "I don't want my boys fighting." And we haven't.
    Thanks for sharing Fran. I'll write a more detailed blog when I get home tomorrow. Right now I am bone tired.


Comments are always welcome except from SPAM bloggers. I answer all comments. Have a great day!