I am taking a week off to clear out and consolidate the storage sheds from two into one. I've already done a fair amount of work last week to the point where my back ached from moving boxes. I also find the job rather overwhelming and tedious. The best way I can describe it is that I feel as though I am being smothered by the past. And I have reached a point where I want the past cleared out so I can face the future with more of a clean slate.
The sheds contain a lot of stuff of my husband's (even from his first marriage) and my parent's. When I moved from my five bedroom house last fall into our two bedroom apartment, there wasn't enough time before winter hit to do a major clear-out. So this is it. Whatever doesn't fit into the one storage shed I'm going to maintain, will be donated or tossed. This is a chore and a difficult job. Especially doing it on one's own. No one tells you how much work it takes being a widow. Having to face these tasks even years later doesn't make it any easier. Although I know he isn't here anymore, I do question what my husband would want done with his possessions - the same with my dear Mom's things.
Last week I took a huge step, leap is more like it by taking five huge overflowing boxes of old National Geographic magazines to the used book store. I could barely lift the boxes. Now these were from my husband's office and classroom and they've sat in the storage shed because my youngest insisted he wanted all of them. But I drew the line that they take up too much space. As a compromise, my youngest can keep his dad's large collection of history books (his speciality was the Middle Ages) because he is leaning toward becoming a history teacher himself.
I got $5.00 for the 200 magazines - not very much. But I felt as though a weight was lifted from me. It was difficult to part with the magazines because they were a visual reminder of my husband. He always was reading one and they'd be scatterted around the house with tabs marking certain pages. But it is time to let them go. To someone who may collect them or be able to use them now rather than being shut away in a dank, dark storage shed getting mildewed.
Today, I went through some of my mom's old clothes and old clothes from the boys, sorting them to go to the resale shop as a donation. I was reminded by how nicely I dressed my boys when they were little and certain items brought back various memories. But again, I am so pleased that someone (maybe a young, struggling mom or dad) will be able to use these clothes now.
I anticiapte that it will be a rough week. The boys have committed to helping me with the undertaking. When I'm working in the shed or going through the bags of stuff I just feel so overwhelmed and closed in. It is like the past is burying me alive - all the stuff from my husband's classroom, all the old stuff from my parent's life, not to mention the old stuff from MY life. I went through a giant garbage bag of items that had been in the desk of my husband's classroom. It was a very heavy bag. What was mostly weighing it down were the files my husband had filled with his first son's art and school work. This is my sons' half-brother, age 28 who is now a teacher himself and married. The files were from pre school all through grade school. Of course I am going to pass these on to the boys' brother as soon as they get together in the future (the sooner the better). What struck me was how sweet and dear it was that my husband kept all of his first son's art and school work. He didn't need to do that for his second and third boys because I was the scrapbooker in the family.
It was a nice surprise to come across and reminded me of the good man my husband was. He used to say that he wasn't a wealthy man in terms of money but that he was a rich man because of his three sons. And he'd have tears in his eyes as he said this. I found it kind of ironic that although I am going through the sheds in an effort to clear out the past, these files were pieces of the past that should be saved and passed on.
Today, in a bunch of papers was a darling picture my youngest colored as a very little one. Four stick figures representing a family but they were just huge heads with the arms and legs coming out of each head. Absolutely adorable! It was clear that the dad and mom were my husband and I, and the children my two sons. I set the drawing aside in a safe place. I want to frame it right away and put it up - it's that cute. And I think it is significant and should be displayed. That little family my youngest depicted in his early artwork still does live on in spirit. It isn't evident in the old books and magazines that belonged to my husband. But in the love and the values that do live on within this family unit despite the absence of one.