In addition to all the stuff accumulated over many years of marriage and property ownership, my father had all kinds of professional files and books. Then, there were the genealogical research files both my parents kept. Plus, every canceled check and financial record of their entire life together. My father kept everything: old greeting cards, newspaper clippings, you name it. Nor had he done anything to whittle down the pile: when Mother had died eleven years earlier, he had simply had all her dresses and coats cleaned and put back in her closets. It was as if they had both just died, with all their junk left for me to sort through.
Zach and I cleaned and condensed and moved every bit of this mountain of stuff at least twice. We had a major come-get-it for me and my sisters. I sent at least seven wardrobes of clothes and I don't know how many boxes of housewares off on the mission truck to Kentucky. And finally, there was just half a roomful of boxes left in my garage. I promised myself I'd get around to going through all that stuff the next year, making sure that any important papers were copied for my sisters.
Next year turned into the next, and then the next. By the time I was moved to Ellettsville in the summer of 2006, all that stuff was still boxed up, needing to be seen to. We just moved it all into the attic of the little house we were put up in temporarily on the east side of town. When the parsonage was ready for us to occupy ten months later, we moved it all here, and it got crammed into the upstairs storage room.
Well, I refuse to just move it all again. It's got to be gone through. And so, this week, I am closing down my parents' lives for the last time. Every box has to be gone through, and at least every handful of stuff eyeballed to see if there is anything there someone might want to take another look at. It's exhausting, but at least I'm not emotionally affected by it any more. Nineteen years after Dad's death and thirty years after Mother's, I no longer fret over what might be worth keeping. If nobody's asked after it all these years, then my interest is the only interest I have to consult.
It also makes me wonder about the job I will eventually leave to my children. I owe it to them to try to cut down the staggering amount of stuff I shove away in dark corners, too. "Leave the dead to bury their dead," said Jesus, but he could have added, "and let them take care of their own stuff, too."