Ken and I arrived at my mom's house with 25 cardboard boxes, to pack up my step-dad's stuff.
He's been out of town a lot lately, to put it mildly. Travelling here, there, everywhere. Florida, California, and next week he's off to Italy for a month. Effectively, he's homeless. While in Toronto for business, he stays at a hotel with only what he can carry in his suitcase.
8 months after he told my mom that he was leaving her for another woman, all his stuff was still in the house. His jackets were hanging in the front hall closet. His shoes were still by the front door. My mom asked him again and again to clear out because every item of his was a reminder of her pain. He just never got around to it.
In the end, Ken and I got permission to take care of things. He gave us basic instructions. He wants to keep all his books in storage. Clothing was to be divided by size into two catagories: donations to charity (a.k.a small sizes) and keepers (what fits now). That's just about all he has, really.
Things we found while packing up his bedroom:
- All the ties I ever gave him for Father's Days
- A stack of credit cards with expiry dates ranging from 1998 to 2003
- The prayer book he was given at his Bar Mitzvah in 1951
- His collection of watches, most of them inexpensive but visually interesting
- Dense clouds of dust
Ken actually did most of the packing, while I did my best to distract my mom with a computer lesson. Every time she heard Ken go up and down the stairs carrying boxes, she compared it to an undertaker removing a body.
Of course we also spent some time talking about what was going on, and how she felt about it. But there was only so much to be said. My mom isn't one to fall apart in front of any audience, even me, for more than a few moments at a time.
We finished packing up his bedroom, and now have several other areas of the house to deal with. It'll take around 3 or 4 more sessions to get it all done.
Now my mom walks by his room, glances in, and sees boxes and empty shelves where his stuff used to be. Every empty space is a reminder of her pain.
It's a good thing that time heals all wounds. Time has its work cut out for it.