My mom turns 70 in less than two weeks. We’re still scrambling to find the best way to celebrate her big birthday. At first we were going to convert old 8mm movies from the 70s to DVD format. Unfortunately nobody can find the movies in my mom’s house. The fact we can’t find the movies isn’t terribly shocking considering the state of her home. There’s stuff in every single nook and cranny. To say my mom is a pack rat is a gross understatement. The more I chat with my friends about their parents, it seems the pack rat thing is a generational habit as many of them admit their parents are the same way.
What’s wrong with her being a pack rat? Normally I cut her heaps of slack when it comes to her pack rat ways. However this is one of those examples where it’s not so good. It’s really tough on her to part with any belongings in her house. I think there are many reasons for this and the most profound is probably death. When you lose children, you have many memories associated to tangible items such as stuffed animals, blankets, clothes, keepsakes, etc. I do the same thing with gifts given to me by my brothers who passed away. I know my mom has memories of the past in her head and she also likes to keep the house full of stuff. By "stuff" I believe there’s comfort in the clutter. Since I spent the first 18 years of my life in the same house, I’m aware how much warmth the house contains. I guess it saddens me the house I grew up in is so cluttered I don’t feel comfortable bringing my daughter over to visit grandma. Here are a couple sample shots, check the background out in these dated photos.
Yes, it’s that bad in the house. I love my mom, but the cluttered house is hard for me. I’m so uncomfortable each time I go visit. I feel like I have bugs crawling all over me. Perhaps I’m being selfish here, but I miss the house as it was when I was young: less cluttered, full of life, and happy. Since my wife’s parents are both out of town, it would be awesome if we could spend time at grandma’s. We’ve offered to help clean the house, but that was a fiasco.
About seven years ago, my wife and I cleaned the kitchen as a gift to her. I had to ask my mom to leave the house because she couldn’t stand seeing me throw out spices with expiration dates of 1975. We threw out Tupperware from the same era and my mom was in tears. You know those plastic thingies that keep the bread bag closed? There’s an entire drawer full of those still. I collected them in grade school to flick around at friends during recess. (bend them in half, stick under fingernail, and flick). Why hold on to those though?
Anyways, my spirit is a bit broken since we can’t get those movies converted for her 70th birthday. Now it looks like we’ll be going out to a nice dinner instead. Creative Egan needs to kick in high gear. You only turn 70 once. I’m so tempted to send her on a cruise, back a dumpster up to the house, and pitch stuff. However, I know my mom would never forgive us if we accidentally threw away something not deemed "trash". Damn you Ebay and Craigslist.
Move… that… bus!!!