Apartment Simplification – Supplemental

One of the care staff helped me find space for an additional almost 300 Depends, and a case of Poise, which is a ‘pantyliner’ for the Depends. It preserves the Depends, adds odor control, a layer of protection to keep skin from getting irritated, plus additional absorbency. After we were done the staff member took the broken down boxes (4 – go Costco) to the trash and let me finish going through things.

In addition to the tasks in a previous post, I also, finally, had time to go through two crammed full baskets on mom’s kitchenette counter. In them I found:

  • 40 or 50 pieces of mail mom has received over the last who knows how long. I placed all correspondence into a drawer where the rest of her letters are.
  • Two large, and six small notebooks, I left one big one and three little ones. In the ones I removed, and tossed, there were shopping lists, and multiple hand-written lists of her TV channel lineup.
  • 12 more post-it note pads.
  • Grocery store receipts. Tossed.
  • More daily activity sheets. Tossed.
  • A CD of songs from the year she was born. She doesn’t have a CD player, nor has she asked for one in the last 3+ years.
  • Indecipherable writing on various pieces of paper. Tossed.
  • Three lacrosse balls, I think. They were at the bottom of the bigger basket. Tossed.
  • More antique magazines. Tossed.
  • Daily New Yorker cartoon pages. She saves these for me, but in what felt like despair I tossed these too. I’m in no place to have reminders of my mom’s decline in this moment.
  • Various ribbons buried and tangled in the baskets. Tossed.

I arranged the items that got to remain nicely in the larger basket, tossing the smaller one, added her bowl of collected chestnuts to the new arrangement, and then wiped the grit off the counter.

Two bags of empty boxes and containers of various lineage were also thrown out. She is still a vessel collector. At least I know where I get it from… But my passion is bowls. It’s about being a control freak. You can contain (control) things with vessels! My friend the clinical psychologist shared that gem with me.

Items that came home with me to stay:

  • Two gift bags, well to reuse.
  • The CD.
  • An index card that Cindy wrote for mom years ago. It’s about a Chinese tradition of placing a frog sculpture (that Cindy made) facing out a window for luck. I now have both these items and will reunite them on a widow sill.
  • Elvis’ feeding tray for his water and food dish. We’ve been using a cookie sheet since he’s been here, and it just seems a little more classy that he has the right tray again.
  • A fabric Elvis Presley wall hanging. It’s heavier than fabric, but not heavy enough to be a blanket. It’s something that Tim and Cindy gave mom years ago. It was important to Tim that I place it in her apartment where she’d find it, which I did over a year ago. She never discovered it.
  • A newspaper clipping from when my daughter won our state’s Assisted Living Nurse of the Year award.
  • A couple of one-page, prompt-driven writings that I’ll share at a future date. These were done through an activity at the community.

I left a bar of orange dark-chocolate on mom’s counter, and then headed out. As I turned to take a look at the apartment, before closing the door, the space struck me as austere, lacking personality even. What that tells me is I associate my mother’s space with disorganization, chaos even. I doubt it’s the last time I’ll have to triage her space, and, sadly, she is less able than ever before to invite clutter into it.

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