Don't Mince Words


The great clean out, v2.0

Posted on March 19, 2014 by Marna
Box recycling run

Box recycling run

One of my friends asked me if it was difficult cleaning my mother’s house. No, it wasn’t. My anger overshadowed memories and sentimentality.

My mother was a member of The Greatest Generation.  She grew up during the The Great Depression and rationed during WWII. That means she’s a saver.  After my Dad died, I did the great clean out version 1.0.  The house was painted while my mother considered moving to a retirement community.  She never made that move, but it gave her 18 years to collect more.

A lot of what I pulled out of the house was pure recycling.  Boxes, paper, glass, and plastic.  That’s what made me angry. I made seven trips to the recycle center, one run to the county dump, and filled her big blue recycle can five times. What was funny were the things I thought she had too many of.  She averaged 1.3 pairs of scissors per room.  She had more boxes of toothpicks than the cast of Hee Haw could use.

Once my brother and I took what we wanted, there were still a few things we hated to leave for the bulldozer:  the bunk beds my Dad built and the IBM Selectric II typewriter my mother used.  I volunteered to come back one more time and conduct a donation-based “estate” sale.  The proceeds would go to hospice.

I wrote a best-of nominated Craig’s List ad inviting hoarders and collectors to come clear out the house.  A half-hour before start time, they were lined up with their tote bags, ready for a grabfest.  I quickly learned that hoarding is a family affair for couples in their early ‘50s.  I opened the door, they ran in and went floor to floor.  Most people would stay at least and hour.  As they would make their donation, they’d tell me what a great idea it was to make it free. Then they’d tell me how excited they were about finding X, Y, or Z.  A found item artist is going to pull apart the Selectric and make an art piece.  A 20-something kid took the bunk beds so he and his roommate will have more room.

While mom wouldn’t approve of strangers milling around her house, I think she’d be happy that we were able to pass on some of her clutter to folks who could use it or hoard it. A good cause will benefit and I can safely say, I’ve done my duty.  The door is shut. The house is sold.

Leave a Reply


  • About Marna

    Marna’s writing career started as a Pentagon intern. Early exposure to $500 toilet seat press releases made her appreciate creative nonfiction. Now she has more than 25 years of senior-level marketing and communications success working with Fortune 100 companies, government, nonprofits, small businesses, startups, and agencies.

    Stats: 369 Posts, 128 Comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Tag cloud

  • Old Posts



↑ Top