I spent seven hours at mom’s AL community on Friday, after receiving a special dispensation from the GM’s supervisor, packing up mom’s apartment. Right now no is allowed in the community that isn’t ‘essential.’ Perhaps it was my packing instructions that led to the GM to ask if I could come in and take care of it myself!! They were extraordinarily detailed.
I am SO thankful I was allowed take care of the packing. To ask anyone else to do such a task is unthinkable in my mind, and (no fault) those trying to do the task would have delivered a mixed up distaster for me to untangle, as they would have had zero context for knowing what was worth keeping, and what was trash. While it was emotionally draining, and physically tiring, it was worth every ounce of effort.
I spent the first hour and a half going through every drawer, cabinet, and shelf. In that time I filled 2-32 gallons garbage sacks with things to throw away. About 30% of the mass was clothing: Torn, thread bare, stained, too dirty to donate (nope-not going to wash and then donate with the volume of items to address, and an estate to settle). There were lots and lots of partially used toiletry items of the wrong scent, cheap razors, dusty dental floss, Rx toothpaste never used, periodicals (lots), tchotchkes she’d picked up while in AL, unneeded mail, stale cornflakes, teas and Doritos, pillows she’d made that were 8/9ths deteriorated (not what I need to remember my mama by), candy wrappers collected in drawers like mice collect wood shavings, multiple note/address books of various sizes with the same information on 1-3 pages, enough pens and pencils to open a stationary shop (No, not going to keep pedestrian Bic pens), gift bags, the carnations I delivered for her on May 8th (really?? No one removed them??), plastic wrap and Ziplock bags that, somehow, were covered in goo, the tote bag on her walker (also full of goo), and so much more. Another thing I am thankful for is having been able to surreptitiously clear her apartment of excess/extra things earlier this year when we had to exit Elvis. Had that not happened, Friday would have been 100-200% more difficult.
After sorting, packing came next. Packing is an art. I have a masters in packing from a state college, verses an Ivy League university 😂. I’m pretty good at it, but not an expert. I prefer to do this task alone because to communicate my process with others derails me. It’s one of those things that’s intrinsic to me, but unexplainable. My kids get it, It’s genetic. I get it from my mom!
The other large category that came out of packing was ‘donations.’ I held onto dad’s clothes for WAY too long after his passing. Someone else can use those clothes!! Of course, there’s a stack of mom’s clothes I’m keeping. Mom and I are/were different sizes, particularly at the end of her life. I got my dad’s shoulders and rib cage, long legs (for a short girl), and arm length. She had a waist!! I don’t! It’ll be lovely to adopt some of her treasured garments. I also have a zillion Depend briefs to donate (250)… I’d just bought three additional cases for mom. They were unboxed (not returnable), but not unpackaged. I’ll check in with the local non-profit skilled nursing community I teach at (usually) and see if they can use them.
I boxed up books, ceramics that both my mother and father made, ‘paper,’ including all the lovely correspondence friends and family sent mom over the, almost, 40-months she lived in AL, a lot of toiletries that were adoptable, the jewelry I sent with her to AL (nothing with too much monetarily value), art supplies, rugs, 8-paintings, things I can return to Costco, and the drug store that staff had asked for but hadn’t been used, and lots, and lots of bits and pieces.
I am grateful to mom’s AL community staff for helping load heavy items into the bed of my truck as I brought them down (six loads on a valet trolly). They made my work easier, both emotionally and physically. I am also thankful to staff and residents who paused to offer their condolences, and reminiscence.
After securing the truck’s load, I retuned the valet trolly to the concierge, and then paused to listen to the co-activity Director play my former-husband’s piano for four residents One of their dogs came up and gave me some love. Nate (the Director) looked up at me, smiled, and said, “I love playing this piano!” He knows its story. After 4-5 minutes, I headed out. It was a good way to leave the community as a family member, somehow. 💜