Apartment Simplification

Cheryle and I worked together on Wednesday for an hour in mom’s apartment, accomplishing an amazing amount of triage. It was like a concentrated house clean out, except working on mom’s houses took 2.5 years. I confess to feeling a little PTSD as we went through everything. The blessing is that I only had to deal with ‘stuff.’ The building and its systems are someone else’s responsibility.

We pulled five totes/duffles, and one 11-gallon garbage bag out of the apartment. As an exercise, I’m going to catalog what was removed (save most of the trash bag). I am, but shouldn’t be, dumbfounded at the accumulation of stuff that should be thrown out, and how familiar this is to what mom’s houses were like when she went into care. The apartment is a hair over 500 square feet. This is what we removed:

  • 11-Gallon Trash Bag (fit into a pet food delivery box)
    • Soiled undies found in the drawer in front of mom’s toilet.
    • Lots of magazines and daily activity sheets (dozens) that I’d hoped to recycle, but when Cheryle offered to take the bag to the trash, I did not argue.
    • Plastic medicine and used paper cups – 20ish. Mom has not let go of her depression era roots!
    • A dead plant that was in a ceramic valentine mug. I put the mug on a cabinet shelf that mom can’t see or reach.
    • A turtle necked long-sleeved shirt whose cuffs were shredded.
    • A package of cheap razors.
    • All the travel hygiene products that were in mom’s red toiletry bag, which has been sitting on her vanity counter for 1,115 days. Really.
    • Clothes that were too small and worn out to donate.
  • Elvis Gear
    • 72 cans of cat food, blessedly contained in three cases. The remainder (in a kitchen cupboard) of the cans will be given to another resident who has a cat.
    • Cat bed.
    • Half a dozen cat toys.
    • Three different containers of catnip.
    • Treats.
    • The automatic kibble dispenser.
    • Two useless brushes she used for Elvis, who has a coat like an otter.
  • Toiletry Items
    • Six vessels of various creams. Four partially used, two new. I left ample lotion in her apartment.
    • Two packages of panty liners, which are no longer useful to her.
    • A partially used bottle of hand soap.
  • Clothes (too small, too worn, or too much)
    • 15 scarves.
    • Six shirts.
    • One pair of jeans (that have paint on them from when we painted the poppy-red wall at the Island house).
    • Her Star Fleet Academy Sweat Shirt, now too small.
    • A pair of nice dress shoes she’ll never get into again.
    • A kimono (one of five) that while authentic, has seam damage, which mom attempted to repair. Part of self-care is knowing not to fix something that I will never wear, and realizing my fabric stash has just improved!
  • Other
    • Silver twine, probably from a gift.
    • Seven empty gift bags.
    • From the drawer under the fridge:
      • 14 magazine from 2017.
      • Nine magazines from 2018.
      • 109 daily Life Enrichment schedules from 2017
      • Copies of doctor’s chart notes, and the community’s electronic medical records.
      • Antique receipts, paper napkins, and candy wrappers.
    • Stale crackers.
    • A mason jar full of flower food packets. I left a bunch behind.
    • A 26-ounce box of Morton’s salt.
    • Two packages of post-it notes.
    • Two pads of paper with the header, “Southern Railway Company.”
    • Two old wall calendars, 2017 & 2018.
    • A lovely new linen Christmas kitchen towel.
    • A Navajo rug that was crammed into a dresser drawer.
    • What looks like a molded maple leaf, made from red clay, and then painted with beautiful iridescent paints. It looks like an autumn dream leaf. It’s also in three pieces because it was never fired. I wonder if it was a craft project.

Left for next time is a sizable collection of empty Almond Roca containers, the paper bags she used to line the front edge of the couch in an effort to keep Elvis from using it as his personal scratching post, and a more thorough look through some of the kitchenette drawers. Next time will likely be tomorrow after work as my car is full of Depends briefs, and five new pairs of socks (which will replace old pairs!).

I’ve ‘processed’ everything I brought home last night: Goodwill, recycle, garbage, keep/save. I sure hope the cats don’t get picky about their food any time soon. There’s a hell of a lot of it.

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