Tuesday, October 1, 2013


My house.
It's full of stuff.
Craft stuff, memory stuff, saved stuff, saving for someone else stuff.
It's a mess of stuff.
And it's time I do something about it.
After Oskar died it made me philosophical.
Okay, yeah, well it mostly  made me cry and carry on like a girl who'd lost her dog.
But somewhere in the middle of the crying and the searching for additional Kleenex boxes, I realized something.
Oskar was a pretty 'stuff-free' kind of weiner dog.
After a few days, Mr. Jenny and I were able to gather his things together and decide what to do with them.
The biggest item we've debated over is his boat.  He had a boat for a dog bed.  It's pretty cool and I'll have to tell you about that someday.
But on this particular day, I have something else I want to tell you about.
That subject is stuff.
I was folding up some of the dogs blankets to take to donate to a no kill shelter, and I had a terrible thought.
"Mr. Jenny, Mr. Jenny," I shouted across the house.  "I need to talk to you right away!"
He came skidding out of his office, looking worried.
"Hey!   What happens when we die?"
He paused..."Well....our spirit leaves our body and..."
"NO,NO,NO!" I interrupted rudely.  "What happens to our stuff?"
"We have a will."

"I know we have a will but what happens to all our stuff?"
He looked a little puzzled.   "Everything is in the will.   Who wants special stuff, money division, etc."
I shook my hand impatiently.  "I know all that, but STEVE!  SERIOUSLY!  WHAT ABOUT ALL OUR STUFF?   Who takes care of that?"
"The executor or executrix, why are you so worried about this?"
"Let me show you," I said.  I showed him my craft closet.   "This is why I'm worried."
I showed him shelves in the garage and other cupboard filled willy nilly with 'stuff.
"Someone has to take care of all this stuff.   Someone has to decide what to do with it.   This is not organized AT ALL!   See!   See!   Here's some pictures I need to scrapbook by this stack of paper.   Here's a box of pictures I haven't sorted.   Here's a bunch of cards I've saved.  Here's all the music I've written, crumpled here into this ratty shoebox."
I opened drawers and cupboards and realized that the only person I could have sort all this stuff would be a person I hate.
And I don't really hate a lot of people.
In all actuality it would be a person that I loved doing this terrible sorting job.
What a horrible burden to put on someone.
To put on someone who is possibly grieving me.
Talk about selfish.
Yeah.   Selfish is me.
So, I'm rethinking my whole house and its contents.
I'm writing the stories of family pieces and attaching them to the back or bottom.of frames and drawers.
I am combining like content with like content.
I'm going through all the boxes of random correspondence and cards and sorting them into smaller boxes.
Those boxes have stuff written (legibly) like:  "You might enjoy looking through these", "Shred", "If no-one wants any of this, just donate to ABC."
It's hard work, this organizing of memories, but no-one else is going to be able to do it.
Mr. Jenny thinks it's depressing.
I think it's empowering.
What bigger act of love to show to the person managing our things after our death than to give them a guide.
A total and complete guide of who wants what and how to dispose of the rest of it without having to go through every box.
Mr. Jenny is going to tackle his office before months end as well.
Then, together, we will make all the pertinent lists and info.   Who to call (including phone numbers), lists of specific things going to specific people or places, life insurance policies with the agent card attached, bank passwords, contents by room to make the task less daunting.
I just keep thinking that I would not want to go through and sort my house.
Hey.  I don't even want to do it now.
But it's my responsibility as the keeper of all the stuff.
And maybe it's my responsibility to the beloved family member who will not only lose her Mom and Step-Dad one day,  but will also become an almost-hoarder at the same time.
Who is ever ready for that?
Darn, our sweet little Oskar for dying anyway.
If it wasn't for that, I'd be still hitting garage and estate sales and finding more cool stuff.
I wouldn't be surrounded by 27 piles of disorganization that I thought I had just organized.   
Oskar was always a Good Boy.
Perhaps especially now by making me realize I have a responsibility for what comes after I'm gone...
...and for the poor loved one who has to deal with all the nuts and bolts of dismembering another persons life.
post signature 


Eden House News and views said...

Ok first sit down , are sat down? ok now close your eyes , No peeping!!! now imagine that God or someone has watapped their huge arms around you and given you a great big hug.
Ok now find yoursel three boxes.
box one is no no never, box two is now now now and finally no not now.
next take your first box and file the contents acccording to this system. when finished area is empty,Put now now now back in place.
no no never can be recycled or tipped No not now gets looked at again later to see if you really need.
I have done that as moving house on Saturday. My new home will have no nononever things . Good luck

summersundays-jw said...

Oh, I have so many of the same thoughts & I have only one daughter who will have to deal with all my "stuff". What really started these thoughts with me were the estate sales I've been attending. Heaven forbid that all my "stuff" should be exposed to the world in such a manner (at least throw my underwear away). Good luck! Jan

Pondside said...

This is going to bring on a lot of thought and conversation! It's something I've been thinking about too, as I chat with my parents about a move west - and then look around here at the piles and piles of STUFF. If I kept on top of it all it would be a good thing, but unfortunately I'm an 'I'll do it tomorrow' kind of gal.

Theresa said...

Oh what a scary thought! I certainly don't want anyone going thru my piles:) Have a blessed and sortably wonderful day dear Jenny! HUGS!

Viki said...

This is a very good idea. I do have a list typed for when we die of all the businesses that have to be called but I think it's time to start sorting through some stuff. I've got plenty, ha.

Jeanie said...

Sobering and thought-provoking, Jenny. I did a lot of de-stuffing a few years ago, but things do pile up again. Your Oskar has left us a positive legacy.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

First of all Jenny I am so sorry about your loss of Oskar!

I just did this with my parents this weekend. Purging. My mom still won't throw anything away. A sister and I worked with her all weekend. She was holding on to things and she had to make decisions. It is helpful for her that we were there to go through it.

Tip: it helps to have wine. :-)

Susan Anderson said...

You are such a keeper. And I am going to use this bit of wisdom to follow your example.

Thanks, Oskar. From all of us.


Amy said...

Where have I been, I didn't know Oskar died! I am so so sorry! How difficult for you.
My mother in law did just the same thing last month. It must be something in the air.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Jenny I have come to this myself during my move. I have so much stuff and who will deal with it when I'm gone??? Not fair to my girls. So I'm getting rid of things I've had for years (like my first ballet costume...that no one would want but me and even I don't care anymore) and getting rid of it. Organizing the things I think my girls might want and starting to shed the burden of so much stuff from my life. It's time to do that. It's sad and a lot of work, but it's time. Bless you and Mr Jenny as you do this. And big hugs again for the loss of your beloved Oskar! hugs, Linda

cdoggett01@yahoo.com said...

The worst part isn't even the sorting of ones parents things....it is the bickering that siblings do over these things. I know, I lived through it. Being the baby of the family (18yrs old) I didn't get a whole lot of my Mother's things...I choose not to fight over them. It is never easy. Over the years and after tempers cooled....they all shared with me...and my kids whom never met her.

Ms. A said...

My daughter has promised me she will get rid of all my "stuff" (that won't mean anything to anyone but me) when I'm dead. It's going to take some time to do, that's for sure. However, since they rarely have time for me while I'm living, (unless they need something) it'll give them something to think about when I'm gone.

Janie Junebug said...

Steve? STEVE? I purposely do not accumulate more stuff except for books. The contents of the house will go to The Hurricane. She knows the history of important items. Of course, it's easy for me because I have no talent and no craftsy stuff.


Unknown said...

Wow....why do you always find what I am thinking and write about it??? We are more connected than either of us thought Jenny...it is important we get together this fall...please????
You have Meri's # let's get something scheduled...we can't keep putting our get together on the back burner...I have so much to share! :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oskar is the gift that keeps on giving. YOU are doing a great thing. NOT fun...but your peeps will appreciate it later on. {{MUCH much later on}}
My in-laws are downsizing from two homes to one and retiring at the same time. They are doing this with the family and really getting things OUT or where they are destined to go.
Bless you my friend.

Heather{Our Life In a Click} said...

Great idea and very thoughtful of you!!! It does sound daunting though--but easier for you than anybody else!

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

What about all the stuff you DONT want them to find!!!!!

Rita said...

My aunt went through this when they moved her MIL to the nursing home. The woman had been a hoarder and she and her husband and a niece were stuck going through the house full of crap. So she decided to purge through the whole house--thinking of what her kids would NOT have to decide about. Now you have me thinking....

Pat Tillett said...

What a tough thing to deal with. When we tried to lighten our load a year or so ago, I found out that I can easily get rid of stuff belonging to others, but my own stuff is another story!

Stay the course, my friend!

Moore Minutes said...

Had to read this post too since I'm feeling motivated. ;) GOOD STUFF! . (meaning the writing here not your stuff hehe)