My son and I helped mom and dad move from their mobile home to their first assisted living facility. Things were in crisis mode at the time of the move (See “Sentinel Event: The Crisis That Changed Everything“]. Therefore we had only about 3 days to empty the mobile home they had occupied for over 25 years. We had to determine what to move to their new apartment, what to ship north for safekeeping, what to donate and what to dump.
I sent about 5 boxes of photographs, paper medical and financial records, video and audio tapes and other things to my home. I also boxed up some photographs, audio and video tapes, clothing, furniture, framed pictures and photographs, etc. to move to their apartment in the assisted living facility. Mom lived to look though her old pictures and frequently asked me over the phone who the individuals in the photos were.
After mom passed away, I had to move dad north to an assisted living facility near my home. Again I packed everything up for the move. The apartment in the new assisted living facility was much smaller than the double unit they had in the south. Therefore a lot of furniture and belongings that they had in their old ALF no longer fit. I put those items into my garage until I could decide what to do with them.
In addition, after mom’s passing, I spent 2 weeks at my parents’ northern home sorting through the accumulation of a lifetime. Again I had to determine what was worth keeping, what to donate and what to dump. I donated all mom’s clothing except those items that were too worn out and those were tossed out. Mom also had collections of books, jewelry and coins. Dad had boxes and boxes of audio and video tapes. Dad had a lot of clothing in that house also.
My parents had spent half of each year up north and half in the mobile home in the south. They had clothes and many other items in both places. In addition, they had many boxes of photographs in the house that were from their youth, as well as those inherited from family members who had previously passed away.
My brother made several trips here to visit dad in his new assisted living facility. Each time he brought many boxes my parents’ things I had previously packed. I have a small townhouse, so whatever didn’t fit in dad’s small apartment ended up in my garage.
This spring my goal was to sort through all the items that had been stored in the garage and in my house and determine what to do with them. I washed about 10 loads of dad’s clothing and other items, most of which were musty from years of storage in the northern house. They essentially kept two sets of clothing – one in the mobile home and one in their house – so they could just travel with one suitcase each spring and fall.
After I washed all the clothing, I decided to donate some that no longer fit dad since he had lost so much weight. I put as much clothing as would fit in his closet and bureau at the ALF and stored the rest in plastic boxes in my garage.
I sorted through all the photo boxes and books and pulled out the photographs into plastic photo storage boxes. I started to sort them by year and topic and that process is ongoing. There are probably well over 1000 photographs. I distributed some more recent ones to my sister, my niece and my children. I scanned a lot but have much more to do. After that the digital photos can be distributed to all family members who are interested.
I went through boxes of mom’s financial records, some going back over 30 years. I purchased a heavy-duty shredder and disposed of most of the really old financial records. I purchased 2 file boxes to store some of the older financial records plus all of mom’s recent medical records and bills. I also use a rolling file that I previously had but now it stores all of dad’s current files for financial and medical records.
I gave some of dad’s furniture to my sister, some to charity and some is still in my garage. I still have the rolling television cart with boxes of video and audio tapes. Dad has a lot of tapes in his room and if he asks for more I still have the rest. He seems satisfied with what he has, but I don’t want to give away something he might ask for later. I feel good that I have made so much progress in my garage as it was a chore that I did not look forward to. I still have some of dad’s heavy coats out there as there is no place else to put them.
Making my way through all this clutter was high on my list of things I needed to accomplish this year. I feel good about the progress I have made, but I still have more to do.