It has been HOT! It’s been almost 100 degrees most days this week – we’ve been trying to stay cool indoors for most of the day, and since we don’t have air conditioning – it is tough to stay cool! Our area is close to the ocean, so most people don’t have air conditioning – this week I was wishing we had it! It was too hot to even go to the beach with the girls – they would not have done well on scorching sand!
But by 6 o’clock, the weather will cool down to about 85 degrees – which means it’s cool enough to go to the park. Here we are yesterday at the park – the girls had so much fun. We were there until almost 8 – sundown!
My huge project these past few weeks has been sorting through the two VERY full tool sheds we have at our new house – the owners left them packed with TONS of stuff.
The previous owners were a married couple in their mid-90s and moving into a retirement community. They had lived in this house since 1955 (when it was built). We are only the second family to live here! They never had any children, so there really wasn’t anyone to help them go through their belongings.
It was going to be very exhausting, traumatic, and expensive for them to have to sort through their entire lives’ worth of things. Turns out, you can accumulate a lot of stuff in 90+ years. We didn’t want them to have to worry about that, so we told them that they could leave what they wanted in the house. They took some things with them, but they left behind SO MUCH that they did not want…
It turns out, when you’re in your mid-90s, there are very few material possessions that matter much to you! I have been sorting through their lifetime of things, and it has been surprisingly emotional. I know more about them now than I ever could imagine – and yet, certain parts of their lives are a mystery. I feel very protective of them and I don’t want to do anything to embarrass them. After sorting through their lives, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for them both.
Needless to say, they kept most things dating from back in the 1940s. I came across a set of the first electric hair rollers, makeup tubes from the 1920s, and a box of unopened tampons that was recalled in 1979! I saw cards and letters, photos, and the biggest thing by FAR was all the paintings.
The wife who lived here was a painter – and she painted hundreds of paintings over the course of her life. They left them all to us in the sale of the house – and some of them are amazing! They also left hundreds of blank canvases, hundreds of paint brushes, easels, and pretty much every art supply you can imagine.
I have sorted much of their stuff into donation and trash piles – the work has been long and exhausting. I filled an entire dumpster and today I’m getting another dumpster, which will also be filled to the top with still more to throw away. Everything from broken Christmas decorations to a lifetime of Weight Watcher’s diaries is going in the trash.
I also have a lot I can donate – and so there is another landfill sized pile for THOSE bags. It’s been a huge organization project!
Every box I opened, I was scared to see what was inside! It was at once thrilling and terrifying.
I never found anything bad…but I did find things that made me scratch my head a bit! Haha!
I found boxes of unopened Barbie dolls from 30 years ago. Lots of porcelain doll parts. And, of course…the paintings! I was able to see the progression of the artist from her beginning career in the 1940s until the almost-present. It was sort of breathtaking, really. She was amazing…
Part of the emotional part is that the woman who painted so many incredible paintings developed Alzheimer’s a few years ago. She had no children, and her memory is eroding with each passing day. The only thing lasting as a testament to her life are her paintings. I want to make sure to preserve them and her memory.
During the sale of the house, we mainly had contact with her husband – who is also in his 90s, and is in very good health and sound mind. He had his own toolshed, which I waded through, and from that I learned so much about his character. He was a WWII veteran, and a pretty amazing man. He was very strong, and he took really good care of his wife. Even to this day, he is still by her side. They have a really great love story, and I feel oddly connected to them because I have touched so many of the things they left behind.
Needless to say, I have kept every piece of art – which is quite the collection! These are some of the last paintings she made before she got too weak to paint.
Many of the art items, I am donating to an inner city high school – and the rest, I am leaving for Paprika (my little artist) to use. I hope that this home continues to be one filled with art, painting, and creativity.
As you can imagine, sorting through everything has been very time-consuming, especially since I have three little ones and I am homeschooling them! It’s been tricky!
It was also a little stressful because I kept worrying I was going to toss some treasure that was a rare antique! I felt like Wall-E when he tosses the diamond ring and keeps the flimsy ring box instead. I didn’t want to have one of THOSE moments, so I found myself running back to Ebay every so often. I did toss a few things I regretted, like the set of hot rollers from the 1940s that were in perfect condition (except they had a lot of hair in them!) The hair kinda grossed me out, so I tossed them without thinking…oh well, easy come, easy go.
Once I decided whether to donate, toss, or keep – I had to not second-guess myself. Otherwise going through everything could take decades…
So – that’s a little of what’s been going on lately! There is so much more to tell, and goodness knows I have uncovered so many interesting things from these people’s very long lives. It’s amazing how our belongings can tell such a story, and at the end our lives, how meaningless all those scraps of paper we saved are. The only thing that really matters is our relationships with the people we love.
My little time capsule of a house has given me so many glimpses into decades past – and also given me an insight on how I want to live my life! It’s been a huge blessing, AND a huge undertaking. More on that later… I have more things to sort through today, a homeschool to run, and of course, three girls who need me!
The End (for now)…