Love Uncluttered

I spent the past two weeks pretty entrenched in family stuff. My Dad is selling his house and buying a condo on the beach. My sisters were in town, so we’ve been furniture shopping and started to sort through some of the stuff in the house, figuring out what he’ll take with him (15%), what my brothers and sisters and I will take (15%) and what will be sold at the massive garage sale we’ll have (we can all figure out this percentage, I hope).

I’ve talked in the past about the mounds and mounds of clutter and crap my stepmother amassed. My Dad lived in a house full of clutter with her for thirty-five years and never complained. The house was always relatively clean, but there was nary a surface unoccupied. And as each of us moved out of the house she took over our rooms and filled the closets and drawers with little gifts she thought the kids would like, or napkins for a future dinner party, or address books (we’ve found at least twenty, filled with the same addresses over and over and over again). There are hundreds of glasses, every kitchen gizmo and gadget you can think of (and some we still have no clue about), family heirlooms and enough serving dishes to give one to every soldier in Iraq. Well, not really. But a LOT.

Now that she’s not there my Dad’s innate need for order (I am an accountant’s daughter) has resurfaced, and with a vengeance. He cannot tolerate any new mess, any new clutter. Extra food brought into the house for the duration of my sisters’ stay is already out of the house, and my sister doesn’t leave until tomorrow. This after noon he asked us to clean up the kids’ toys, about 1/2 hour before more grandkids were showing up. We explained and he relented, but the mess really bothers him.

His new home will be very different from the one he lives in today. The furniture will be less ornate (his new bedroom and dining room sets are lovely and elegant with very clean lines), there will be surfaces uncluttered, and likely there will be empty drawers. To me a much more relaxing place to be.

But that’s not the point.

What’s so fascinating, so wonderful, so cool, is how he adapted for the woman he loved. She brought him so much joy that he learned to live with the clutter, the shopping bags, and the bills. He didn’t try to control the house or her love of stuff. I don’t think he even noticed that much; not until she was gone.

We all deserve to be loved like that, don’t we?

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And So The Next Phase Begins

My father just bought a condo on the ocean.

It’s been just eight months since my stepmother passed away, and he’s not been having an easy time. They’d been married thirty-five years, spending twenty-nine of them in a rambling five bedroom house in the suburbs. The last of us left the nest over fifteen years ago, yet they stayed in a home that was way too big just so there would be room for all of us to visit at the same time.

Now he’s there alone, and the motivation to keep the house has waned. He’s trying to have a social life again, but there’s just not much for him there in his family-oriented community. He drives down to see a friend of his who lives on the beach, and there are restaurants and piano bars and a whole other lifestyle that perfectly fits his vision for his life now.

So, he went and looked. Even though the experts say not to make any major decisions the first year after losing your spouse. And he bought the first one he looked at. After all, why look further when you’ve found the perfect place for you?

We think it’s a terrific decision. With three bedrooms we can’t all stay there at the same time, at least without sleeping bags. But three of five kids live within a 45 minute drive, so we’ll let the out-of-towners stay there, which is really no different than before.

He told me today that he had a rough night last night, thinking about all of the changes that are to come. Feeling grief and sadness that his wife won’t be sharing these things with them. Reliving memories of their time in the house, feeling reluctance to let it go.

But today he’s excited. Excited to start the next phase of his life, to make new memories with us, and with new people he’s yet to meet.

He was able to finagle a fifteen minute showing today so that I could see it, and so we could take some pictures and some measurements.

Excited is good.  Moving forward is good.  The new condo on the beach?  Very, very good.

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