Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I have the unusual distinction of watching both sets of parents purchase a home right next door to the home they currently reside in...and moving there instead. I do not know why this strikes me as odd...other than the fact that it IS odd. But since when has "odd" seemed odd when referring to me or my family? How about...never.

My mother insists that the reason that they are moving is because they will have more space in the new house, it was a terrific bargain, and they will no longer have to pay rental fees on storage buildings in two counties. Because, unfortunately, that is exactly what is going on right now.

A little backstory might help...

My folks moved from Thomaston, GA to Ironton, MO in 1980. This was the summer before my senior year, and I remained in Thomaston. They loaded up everything that they could into a moving van of some kind, and then spent the next several years as Missouri residents. After Linda graduated in 1987, they decided that it was time to leave. Linda remained at University of Missouri (Mizzou) and graduated four or so years later.

They came back to Thomaston and dropped off some possessions at my grandmother's house, and took the rest of the "perfectly good but not absolutely necessary items" and rented a storage building in Thomaston. The year? 1988. After all, this seemed logical as they were moving to California, and they ended up venturing back to Alabama for several weeks.

That stay in Alabama was quite memorable. They were living with Big Dave and me in our apartment, aptly named "The Dalmatian Arms" because it was a white building with huge black mold spots on it. It was a duplex or quad...not entirely sure...but I do know that our upstairs neighbor was a talkative, yard-sale going, clearance rack scanning, state of Alabama working, K-mart frequenting pack rat. She was hysterical, and I will admit that hearing all about her escapades at the local bowling alley and imagining the fire hazard that was her living space pretty much capped off the $225 per month experience on the edge of the 'hood pretty well.

But I digressed, didn't I?

ANYWAY, my folks decided to stay with us in the living room and slept on a double bed mattress on the floor and shared our single bathroom - which was right beyond the floor furnace with us. After growing up in a house with four bathrooms...one bathroom and four people became a huge issue when we collectively came down with a stomach bug of some kind. It was cold enough to have ice in the toilet bowl because we had to keep the window open (or die...we chose life). To this day, the smell of Lysol takes me back. We went through something like two cans in three days. It's a trip down Memory Lane whose closest known depiction is Ben Stiller after the spicy Indian food in "Along Came Polly"...times four.

Several weeks later they left and moved to Perry, Georgia for approximately a year, and then moved to Highlands, North Carolina (and later Franklin) in 1989. The "stuff" just sat in storage, because at $25 a month...it seemed quite reasonable! Out of sight...out of mind.

Ten years later, my sister decided to move to France and she needed somewhere to keep her furniture. My folks had just purchased the house in Franklin, and wouldn't you know it...they had space in their garage. Of course.

In 2004, my grandmother died, and her house in Thomaston became unraveled over a two year period. Two years of sorting through every television she had ever owned, glassware, books, letters, photographs, trinkets, cans of food circa 1974, newspapers, albums, clothes, boxes from the houses of relatives that died in the 1960s and 1970s, and an attic that had not been touched since that time. Wish I were kidding. Did I mention that this process took them two years? Yeah.

Unfortunately, a storage building that my Gammy had also existed in Thomaston that was filled in the late 1960s with family furniture from my grandfather's family. Was this facility climate controlled? Of course not! Had it been touched in nearly 40 years? Hardly. Is it still there minus a few pieces? Absolutely. The only bonus is that my folks consolidated their storage building and my grandmother's...if you can call that a bonus.

In 2006, Ralph's mother died, so they took possession of the house in Phenix City with the intention of staying for two years so that they could then sell it as a residence rather than a rental property. That meant another round of sort and stow and a second storage facility was rented in Phenix City to put my sister's old furniture, and what didn't fit in the house after they gave away or reassigned all of the Phenix City house items.

The Phenix City house items included furniture, but also a legion of unopened packages of clothing from Blair, enough paper towels, rolls of toilet paper Coca-Cola 2 liter bottles, chocolate bars, and Quaker instant oatmeal packets to last until 2013. She had also apparently been channeling Imelda Marcos, as there were at least 70 pairs of shoes...many unworn and in their original boxes.

After donating a tremendous amount to charity, there was still too much "stuff" in the house. So, they formed a path around what was there, determined to get to it if it ever gets cool enough but is not too cold (which means that I had about 8 days that might have qualified in the state of Alabama in any given year.)

Recently, their next door neighbor died, and his children approached my folks about purchasing the house at a substantial discount. Although the rules of real estate are "location, location, and location"...my folks decided to brave it there and to ask some family members to lease the house next door (the one they are currently living in today). I'm assuming that there will be a future blogpost coming from said experience, but I sincerely hope not.

Part of the reason that this particular home was chosen was due to the extra space that they will have in the new "digs." It also has two storage buildings out back. Egad.

I think that the move will work out well for them but I do believe a little updating is truly in order. This updating includes adding central air conditioning, doing something about the truly heinous linoleum in the kitchen (circa 1970) and removing the harvest gold rotary telephone from the kitchen wall (ick.)

So, now, the fun begins. In a few weeks, I will be allowed to help them move the "stuff" from point A to point B...and if I'm lucky and catch one of the 8 qualifying days this year, I may actually be able to convince my mother to part with the jukebox that my sister had in Missouri in 1986, a stove from our house on Mallory Street in 1980, the piano my grandparents purchased in the 1930s, or some of the half broken, dry-rotted, unusable, space hogging, pieces o'crap that they've been paying on all these many years in those god-forsaken storage buildings. Was that harsh? I hope so.

I believe that "stuff" is wonderful when it is in moderation, and when it has a place and a use. Big Dave and I don't have a storage facility, and I am in a constant state of throwing away/giving away/selling on eBay/donating. Granted, there are parts of my home that look horrific and truly need sorting. I have made headway into some...and have a way to go in others.

But, it is also my fervent belief that God blesses us with material things for our use and enjoyment...but most of all to be let go of so that He can keep it moving. I do not suggest that you sell family heirlooms or casually throw away items just because you want a bigger or better model. I do believe, though, that it is lunacy to keep a size 8 suit in your closet when you have to put another number in front of the "8" to get anywhere close to reality. I know that people associate things with people, and in that vein, I have reminders of my family all over my house. But do I really want to burden my children with the disposal of items that they will absolutely, positively have no connection to in this lifetime? I think not.

So, clean out your closets, and share of your bounty. Let your "stuff" bless someone else. I've found that those times that I released my "stuff" my hand was open long enough so that God had the chance to deposit something unexpected and wonderful into it. Sometimes it was a smile on someone's face...other times...tears of relief or joy. Not only is it worth it...just think of the money you'll save in storage rental fees! Later!

1 comment:

  1. So now it makes perfect sense with your reference to shopping from the Blair catalog! Am still laughing at your email. More comments will definitely the event as will pictures.