Stuff... So Much Stuff

My 95 year old Grandma has been moved to an assisted living home as she is no longer able to fully care for herself on her own. This has been devastating for her as she has always had so much pride in her independence and I think so much of her identity has been wrapped up in being the woman who lived in the big house. Let's talk about her house for a moment... my Grandfather and her custom built a 2500 square foot bungalow with a fully finished basement (so 5000 square feet of living space). I guess that number doesn't even include the indoor pool in the backyard nor the tunnel from the basement to it.

It really was a spectacular home in the late 70s and fills my childhood memories as all summer long we'd have family pool parties and BBQs there. The pool was shut down about 10 years ago when the costs to heat and maintain it became to great. My Grandma couldn't afford a new liner that was needed so it was drained and has sat empty since. 

Main house, with pool house in the backyard
My Mom and her siblings have been charged with dismantling the house, selling all her belongings and then selling the house. My Grandma has been house poor for a long time, but now needing to pay for the assisted living and the monthly maintenance on her house is leaving her with a $2000/month deficit. 

It has been so hard for everyone seeing her house torn apart and all the pieces sold. I'm definitely feeling more emotional about this than I thought I would. It's hard not to get attached to our belongings. I'm attached and they aren't even mine. I see the end is coming closer for my Grandma and I guess I desperately want a few things to remind me on her, yet I don't want to be overwhelmed with stuff. My environmental side doesn't want things ending up in the dumpster, and my frugal side wants to see my Grandma getting the most money from the sale of her items to help secure her financial well-being till the house is sold. It makes the whole situation feel just so overwhelming. I have to stop myself from grabbing random stuff to hold onto my Grandma with or an attempt to feel like I'm honoring her somehow. I have found myself obsessing about random objects feeling guilty that we couldn't get more money for it, but reality is no one has the time or mental energy to deal with each little thing individually. There is so much in a house that someone has lived in for 43 years and had a massive amount of room to store it all. 

I currently have a mountain of her designer clothes taking up my guest bedroom as I attempt to make an appointment with a vintage clothing store to see what they'll take on consignment. I'm not sure honestly I'll have the energy to photograph and try to sell what they don't take. 

Last weekend we ran a garage sale of all of her housewares and smaller items. There was so much. We filled her 4 car garage and spilled out onto the driveway. 

We managed to make $1200 for her, but for me one of the best parts was chatting with the neighbours, letting them know how she's doing and hearing some of their stories of the house. That really helped me to start to process some of the feelings I've been having around this.  

At the end of the sale we put this lot out as free and the majority was picked up using a local upcycle group. I forgot to take a photo of what was left but there wasn't much. 

And the after of the garage

I'm realizing that having to deal with so much stuff really was causing me some anxiety so seeing that final photo of all the stuff cleared out is rather calming.

Downside is now I need to deal with the excess stuff that is in my house due to what I've brought home with me. I've decided to buy some couches and a couple rugs from her and have saved a bunch of random things from the give-away pile that are now cluttering my house. This means I need to get on moving stuff out of my house to make room. It's making me accept that it's time to sell some of the baby items I've been holding onto. Our family is most likely (99%) complete with 3 so why am I holding onto the crib? I never really used it in the first place. I have a big pile of stuff to get out of the house. Our new neighbours who are expecting their first will be getting a huge box of clothing should they be having a boy. I also need to find homes for our basement couches so we have room for my Grandma's. My to-do list suddenly feels much longer. 

This experience has re-affirmed my desire to stay on top of the stuff and move it out when we are done with it. I do struggle with it as I'm more of the reluctant minimalist. I like the space and reducing clutter, but I hate getting rid of something I could potentially need later. I've gotten better with the baby items that I know I can replace easily second hand such as baby clothes and equipment. Now just to apply the same mentality to my craft stuff and figure out some systems for the daily items that come into the house. 


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