Cleaning out the ‘old homestead’

I’d started this post back in December when I was in Florida to close down Mom’s house and prep it to sell. It’s about time I finish it up and post it to memories!

Mom moved to Florida in 1989 after her husband – my dad- of 45 years passed away. She’d lived in SC since the early 1950s and through her church and dad’s connections, she was pretty well known and liked. Mom was pretty independent and I’ve always been proud of her ability to take care of herself, manage her finances, move to a new place, meet new people, and become involved with her new community.

So now, 19 years after arriving in Florida, it was time for Mom, at age 86, to move on again. While Mom was settling in temporarily with her caregiver until we move her into assisted living, my brother George and I started going through her place. Geroge painted, tacked down carpet and linoleum, and did the handy-man stuff!

It’s amazing what people keep. (I’m sure my kids will never say that about me! Ha!)

The bathrooms
Besides the numerous cleaning aids including duplicates of many things like Windex that I found in the main bathroom, there were tons of q-tips and cotton balls, hairpins, soaps of all shapes and sizes, multiple bottles of shampoo and conditioner, medication for aches and pains (many expired), Tums, extension chords, light bulbs, night lights, jewelry cleaner, and bug motels. (“Duplicates” is the key word here! She wouldn’t need to buy more of that stuff for at least 2 years!) There was also an ancient hair net in its original yellowing package featuring a model with a 1960s or 70s hairstyle!

The guest room and master bedroom
I went through 2 sewing machine drawers/cabinets and emptied them of threads, needles, spools, tools, yarn, and craft patterns. Mom was a fabulous seamstress. For years she sewed her own clothes and made many of mine when I was a kid. She made my wedding gown! She made drapes; she sewed to earn “pin” money, even after her move to Florida. She also did needlework and crocheting. As a retired senior volunteer (RSVP), she crocheted hats and blankets for newborns at the hospital down the road. She also liked to make things out of the plastic canvas, including a napkin holder I still use today in my own home!

The dresser in the guest room was filled to the gills with fabric and more sewing notions. I emptied the night stands in the 2 bedrooms and found Bibles, remembrance cards from services for her friends and family, old watches, photos and books, packages of shoe strings, and more. Her desk in the master bedroom had the typical office supplies and more remembrance cards, address labels, and a few old credit card statements. The desk and sewing cabinets were headed to Goodwill. We left the other furniture to sell with the house.

Closets held clothes, shoes, and belts that were no longer worn. Off to the Goodwill! The closets were much-better organized than mine! They didn’t seem to collect the ‘stuff’ that’s found a home in mine.

I reduced the number of plates, cups, cookware, and utensils but left enough of the basics that anyone could move right in and have everything they’d need to cook and eat.

Living/dining rooms
I cleaned out the small 3-drawer chest that sat on a wall between the living and dining areas. Mom had tons of her needlework supplies in that piece of furniture, too. It was also home to wrapping paper and numerous boxes of mixed-use cards (thank you’s, sympathy, birthday, etc.). There was an old set of china sitting on top of the piece. I wrapped up the china and loaded it into a box.

The dining area has a built-in buffet. In addition to the dishes, serving pieces of every size, shape, and type, placements for a variety of seasons, this was knick-knack central. Mom didn’t have a specific collecting obsession like this blog writer. She just had things she liked: wine decanters, china birds – there must have been 20 or 30 of them – Chinese vases & bowls, several bud vases, angels, plaques, ceramic flowers, and candles, to name a few things. That buffet and window seat next to the table held a lot! Too bad I didn’t take a before and after photo!

Dad had been a shutter-bug and even after his death, Mom continued the tradition. We also supplied her with hundreds of photos of her grandchildren, of course! I removed family pictures from frames that had been hung all over the house. (Scanning opportunities!) There were a lot of photo albums. (I should’ve counted them!) I also found one shoebox of loose pictures, many that must have been in an album at some point. I put aside at least 50 to bring back to KS to scan. Many are of mom and dad or of mom’s family in the mid 1940s. The albums and other loose photos are packed away to go through in the future. Hopefully Mom will remember some of the faces in photos that are not marked! She had been a creative photo album maker back in the ’40s! Photos in those earliest albums were cut out in different shapes and had captions. Not as fancy as some albums you see today but still made with love!

Real treasures found
Dad’s baby book
Dad’s high school diploma
Mom’s high school diploma
Dad’s discharge papers from the coast guard
Newspaper clippings about dad

Lots of memories…


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