Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jane: Cleaning out the House

This is the dollhouse that my Grandfather built for my mom--he renovated it for me when I was 4. My sister and I played with it for years. My brother's daughters played with it, too. It's looking a bit worn out.

Why is it in a wheelbarrow? Jerry's mom is going to take it. She does dollhouses (I remember hers from when I was a girl) and she said she'd love to redo it.

On Sunday, I returned from a trip to Cleveland to clear out the house I grew up in. My sister, brother, and I divided up heirlooms, decided what to throw away, and got the house emptied (mostly) so my brother could get it ready to rent or sell.

My parents had lived in the house from 1965 until my mom had her stroke in 2002. They weren't really collectors, but still, the house was filled with stuff! Nice furnishings, of course, and dishes, heirlooms, bedding . . . but also scrapbooks and slides and childhood toys and books and electronic equipment . . .

We've been clearing bit by bit all along: when Mom and Dad moved into the nursing home, when they passed away. But we decided to come back together to do this one last clearing.

"It's just stuff," said my sister when we started to feel overwhelmed. "We'll take what's meaningful and throw out the rest." My sister's moved many times in her life and she is great at sorting and paring down.

Mostly I felt this way, too. The house was "my house," then "my parents' house," then "Uncle Bill's house," and finally it's become "the Bardbury house" as my brother has moved across town with his fiance. That progression from "mine" to "a house" has been useful as I've had to let go of my childhood home.

But it was still wrenching to see carousel after carousel of slides go into a trash bag (after we'd gleaned the most interesting slides), and Mom's travel scrapbooks and their high school yearbooks go into the rubbish.

Still, as Ellen said, we saved what was most meaningful. I'll see some of those remnants of our house every day--

This lamp was from my grandmother's childhood home in Skanee, Michigan. It was originally a gas lamp, and someone converted it. It looks nice on the buffet table from her home.
My dad saw this beautiful redwood burl when we were on our big "out west" trip back in '74. He ordered it and had it shipped to our house, where he made it into a table. I love the way it looks in the family room. I also love having something he made.
This chair belonged to my sister--then my parents had it after Ellen and Ken moved to Europe. It's comfortable and has a certain mid-20th c. style.
Robbie couldn't leave without this clock. He wound it and found it worked. At first, I didn't want it, but its chime is soft and pleasant, and it belonged to my grandfather, who had a whole collection of clocks. It's on our mantle now, keeping time just fine.

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