The Things We Carry – Grief

Grief inspires odd behavior, like hoarding lost loved ones’ treasures. What do you carry out of the house your parents designed, built, and lived in for 55 years? More than your own home can absorb.

That was my experience—even though I hardened my heart against the grandfather’s clock my father made. Clocks that chime quarter hours seem as creepy to me as the lyrics of the old, sad song Dad had typed and taped inside the clock’s case.  (See below.)  With these lyrics still stuck inside it (and in my head, as well), I thrust Dad’s clock into my cousin’s welcoming arms. Fairly stoic, he’s impervious to the chimes’ blatant 15-minute reminders that life keeps slipping away.

I didn’t carry away my mother’s hutch, her lighted curio cabinet, or the tchotchkes she tucked inside them. I hope today the estate-sale bargain hunters who snagged Mom’s treasures love them whole-heartedly, like she did.

The couple carloads I did carry away from my parents’ house (more on these later) plunged my own into chaos. An influx of nostalgia-laden items plus recent unexpected and scarily extensive home repair projects overwhelmed my usual housekeeping hijinks. Previously our pristine living room (now a mere memory) owed its existence to a slovenly den. Austere bathroom sink tops survived thanks to Fibber McGee-type closets. Tiny tidy public areas preened. Sprawling messy clandestine ones belched, and all seemed (but wasn’t) well.

Concealment doesn’t work for me anymore. National Clutter Awareness Week is March 21 – 28, 2010. By then, through trial and error strategies, I’ll create a clutter-lite life. Are you messy, too? Join me! Tidy? Advise me! I need all the help I can get.

Lyrics to “My Grandfather’s Clock”

My grandfather’s clock
Was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half
Than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn
Of the day he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.