Monday, November 10, 2008

Cleaning Out My Closet

This past Saturday I finally got up the nerve to go and clean out my grandfather’s apartment.

I can’t even say that it was too hard for me. A little sad, to be sure, but not hard.

I have always felt very comforted in that apartment, and that remarkably has not changed. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was there to get a job done, I actually would have liked to do what I had done there almost every Saturday for the past 10 years: sit on the bed and watch some TV. Of course, it’s not the same. It never will be again. But if I sit on the bed, and stare at the television, I can almost bring myself to believe that he is sitting there in his recliner next to me, just out of my view, watching along with me like he always did.

The only time it was hard was when I was cleaning out the kitchen. That was where I found him that day. My eyes kept getting drawn to that spot on the floor. I don’t know why… it’s not like there’s anything left of that spot to signify anything ever happened there.

But as I said, I wasn’t there to reminisce. I was there to finally take care of his affairs.

Which meant a whole hell of a lot of throwing shit out.

I took apart his bed, which no sane person could want in the condition it was in, and dragged it out to the curb. Same for his dressers, and a good deal of his old clothing. Any clothes that looked salvageable I packaged up for Goodwill. Lastly, the recliner went to the curb. That one hurt a little bit.

And my God, the things he saved in just about every drawer or cabinet that I opened.

I found address books, old drivers licenses, a ton of clothes received as Christmas presents that he had never even taken out of the box. Packages of old light bulbs that belong to no light fixture he owned, opera binoculars, bank statements from decades ago.

Then of course, there were the photographs.

There were literally THOUSANDS of pictures packed away in boxes, bags, or even in their original packaging that he got back from the photo stores who developed them. Pictures of old friends and relatives, some I knew, but most I didn’t. Pictures of family that went all the way back to 1890 from Sicily and Palermo. Whole generations of people, all gone, whose lives and choices ended up with me being here today.

There were a lot of pictures of me. Most of them I didn’t know he even had. Baby pictures, grade school shots….. even pictures from my wedding. I had no idea.

In the end, the only things I will be keeping for myself are some photos….

…and his change bucket.

My grandfather was a fanatic about finding old change. Anywhere he saw a loose dime or penny, he’d take it and throw it in his change bucket. One day a few years ago, he called me and asked me if I could help him bring his change to the supermarket, so he could cash it out. I couldn’t BELIEVE how much change he had amassed. That day we walked out of the supermarket with almost $900. Every few years, we had routinely gone back to the supermarket to hand in more change, and although he never hit so big a total again, we always walked away a few hundred dollars richer. No matter how much money he made, he ALWAYS reached over and stuffed half of it in my shirt pocket.

So I went home last night with his change bucket, and then, almost unconsciously, began to count it. I’m not sure why I don’t just dump it into my OWN change bucket and mix it with my own change, but for some reason it’s incredibly important to me to know how much change of my combined total was his. I’ll probably be counting it for most of the week.

Anyway, his affairs are now officially in order, and I can kinda close this chapter.

32 comments:

Dr Zibbs said...

That's sound like it would have been tough but I'm glad you found those old photos. You should post some.

Faiqa said...

So... I want to write a comment that's all, "this too shall pass," but I wouldn't mean it. It must have been hard. My grandmother who raised me died 4 yrs ago. It still hurts.

B.E. Earl said...

That's a tough one. Had to do the same when my father passed away a few years back. Blech.

Michelle J said...

Slyde my friend:

First i want to thank you for a wonderful post. It brought some tearing to my eyes becauase it got me to thinking about my great aunt who passed almost 1 year ago at age 95. She too had lots of "stuff" to clean out but what i remember mostly were the photos!! A LOT OF PHOTOS!!

Anyway, you did a good job cleaning out and remembering. You should pass the change bucket to your son!!!???

Slyde said...

zibbs: i definitely will post some once i scan them..

faiqa: i beleive you. i dont think it will ever not hurt..

earl: yeah, its a right of passage i guess...

michele: actually, i found 20 bucks in one of his old wallets. I told my son it was from grandpa and i put it in his piggy bank. One day we'll use it to buy him something at toys r us or something...

Sass said...

I think your post is something that so many of us can relate to.

It's so hard, isn't it? When someone's life is reduced to the stuff in the apartment.

I think it says something about you, that you kept his change separate. I like that.

Paige Stanton said...

A heart-felt post, very touching...I'd love to see some of those old photos...

Shania said...

I can't imagine how heart wrenching it must be for you. My grandparents have been gone for years. I was too young to appreciate them while they were here. I'm glad you had a close relationship to look back on.

Slyde said...

sass: thanks. I honestly dont know why i did it.

paige: yeah, ive gotta scan some of them...

shania: as ive said in earlier posts, i lived with my grandfather until i was 28 or so. we've always been close.

Ali said...

It does give you a certain amount of closure, doesn't it?

It's incredibly sad, but it almost shows you a little bit more about the person to see the things they've kept over the years.

The photos are priceless, and I'm sure the change bucket means just as much to you.

One of the things I kept after cleaning out my grandma's apartment was this little glass bowl - nothing special - but I remember it always sitting on her coffee table filled with little things. It's on my bathroom counter now, full of my earrings and jewellery. I see it every day and am reminded of her :)

Slyde said...

ali: yeah, the little things are all i have interest in.

When my grandmother died, all i took was a small glass owl that i had bought her when i was 7. I bought it on a class trip for 50 cents...

Sunshine said...

Your the greatest... yes, I do know where you are coming from, I had to do the same for my dad when he left ( it has already been 15 years, I was a young 23 then... ) It was hard but easy too...
xoxoxox

Slyde said...

sunshine: im sorry, hon. i didnt know you lost your dad.

see? once again we are very much alike...

Ookami Snow said...

I also request pics.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Oh Slyde, that was a great post. I got a lump in my throat. You gramps is probably so proud right now.
Now that the hardest part is over, you must live with what is left in peace. I pray you do.

bobgirrl said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

Holly Hall said...

Wow. This is quite the post. Thank you for writing it and sharing who you are.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxxo

Holly



do I get points for pointing out that the title is from an eminem song.

:)

Being Brazen said...

That must have been so tough. Well done for getting it sorted out.

I remember going through my grans stuff with my mother after her death. It was hard and soooo nostalgic. It reminded me of so much and i think the whole process helped more than it hurt.

*hugs*

mikeb302000 said...

Slyde, That is one beautiful emotional post. Reading it I was remembering my grandparents all of whom are gone now. I was especially close with my paternal grandmother and fondly remember her house where I spent many days growing up.

Slyde said...

ookami: i promise i will get to it

candy: thank you. i think i AM alittle at peace now with it..

bobgirrl: :)

holly: of course you do! Im surprised it took so long for someone to mention it :)

brazen: it IS theraputic, isnt it?

mikeb: im glad you have fond memories of your grandmother as well..

James said...

My thoughts are with you doing that. Don't know if I could blog about it for a while if it was me.

latindog said...

Keep those photos and see if there's any older relative who can identify people/places that you cannot. I am in the process of (slowly) trying to get my father (who's almost 78) to write some things down about his family, growing up, etc. He's told me so many stories over the years and I would like my kids to hear them as well but I know I will mess up the details etc.
It's so nice that your son was able to know your grandfather. Perhaps those pictures will help him know your grandfather more as he grows up.

Slyde said...

james: i honestly hadnt intended to, but when i sat down at the computer yesterday, thats what came out...

latin: its very important for me that my son remembers him. I was 8 when my great grandmother (my grandfathers mother) died, and although i remember her, its very vaugue. I had hoped my son would have had a few more years with him.

Anyway, he now had a picture of my grandfather on his dresser...

Chris H said...

I dread having to sort out all my Mum's stuff one day! She is a hoarder too... and has 3 houses! I think the story about the change bucket is adorable. I want to have one too, but I never have any change! It's always spent on the kids...

Chris H said...

I can't wait to hear how much he had in his change bucket BTW.

Chris H said...

And how much was in yours! Yes, I'm stalking you...

Tamara said...

This makes me renew my promise to spend my holiday taking down my granddad's memoirs.

Slyde said...

chrish: i have finally finished counting! i'll probably post it today...

tamara: you should, if you are able to. you really should.

Bruce said...

This is a ritual that almost everyone has to go through at some point. My family is a bit different. I don't know if it is genetic, but when my side of the family kicks the bucket, we don't leave anything behind. We get rid of it all before the end, so that our family and friends don't have to figure out what is what.

What we do leave behind is very well catalogued and orderly. So it can either be donated to the library or given to Goodwill.

But I do understand the change thing. I had a similar expeience here:

http://lotus07rant.blogspot.com/2007/09/urban-archeology.html

teeni said...

Actually, that makes a lot of sense to me why you'd want to keep his change separate. I can't put it into words but it just seems right, at least until it is counted anyway. Everything is its own step, I guess.
Hugs to you. Nicely written.

2abes said...

tough day...I wish I could write something to make your day easier, but i can't write anything that could help

Anndi said...

I'm very sorry about your gramps. *hugs*