I had one of those horrible realizations this last weekend. Sure, I know on one level, I will officially be a septuagenarian this June. As anyone who knows me will tell you, it’s a miracle I survived the blender years to arrive at such a landmark in life.
But what I realized is this—had he lived, my father would be turning one hundred. Our two oldest daughters will be turning fifty. Our two sons are in their mid and late forties, and our youngest daughter, the baby, will be forty.
Now those are the numbers I find hard to assimilate. It mystifies me even though every aspect of our lives emphasizes that Grampa and Grandma are sliding into the high end of life, hurtling toward the golden years like a comet into the sun.
And these days are golden, despite the minor inconveniences of life. Greg’s Parkinson’s is manageable with medication and an intensive physical therapy regime. If you or someone you love has Parkinson’s, LSVT Big therapy is a miracle. But it does require true dedication and daily efforts. Fortunately, my husband is highly determined. Physical Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease | Johns Hopkins Medicine
This diagnosis has prompted us to downsize and sell our home. We currently live in a tiny, rural town twenty miles south of Olympia, where all the services we need easy access to are located. So now we’re planning to move back to a city of politics, art, and creativity. Since leaving there in 2005, we have enjoyed the quiet of our little quarry town—but now we’re looking forward to seeing plays and attending concerts again.
But first, we must sell our home, and to do that, we must excavate—think Heracles and the Augean Stables.
Holy moly … we have a lot of stuff. Big stuff, little stuff, useless stuff, and stuff we have never used.
Right now, our home is littered with boxes. Most are empty, waiting to be called into action. Gradually we’re filling them with the things we intend to keep.
Each day we do one task, empty one corner or cupboard.
Each day we vow, tomorrow we’ll get more done.
Each day, all we manage to get done is the next “one thing,” whatever the appointed task of the day was.
We have upped our garbage collection to weekly instead of bi-weekly, and we have no trouble filling that bin with things no sane person would have saved in the first place.
De-junking seems so daunting, so impossible. But that is because we are at the beginning stage of the process. The main frustration for me comes in the form of—
My husband has the patience of a saint. And believe me, he needs it when I am allowed near the packing tape.
First, you must understand that when I went to the store in our tiny town, they didn’t have the monofilament kind of tape that comes with the dispenser, the kind where you can see the cut edges. They only had a single roll in the entire store, and that roll is comprised of clear tape.
Completely and utterly clear.
Now, we all know that ordinary packing tape is a product invented by Satan to punish all who end up in his domain.
But clear packing tape is a reward set aside for the special few, those more deserving of a true sojourn in Hell.
First, if you forgot to fold the end the last time you used the tape, you can’t see where the cut end is or how to begin peeling it back. It is made so that the moment one does find that end, the tape will automatically roll back onto itself before the victim can make that tiny, intentional fold.
This behavior occurs on a subatomic level, something to do with muons and Buckminsterfullerene. This unique characteristic of clear packing tape offers the poor sinner ten more minutes of frustration and creative cursing.
Or something like that.
I know for a fact this demon-infested thing is only tape, inanimate, and made of plastic and glue. Yet it sticks to (and wraps around) whatever it comes within an inch of. It seeks out my hair, my sweater, and the back of my hand, and (when the stars are in alignment) it sticks to the intended box.
Clear packing tape is both here and there, a kind of Schrödinger’s Cat—technically lifeless but also alive and generating mayhem.
The moment I have cut a long strip of packing tape from the roll, it will magically twist and stick to itself before I can get it anywhere near the box. Trying to get it unstuck from itself is futile – but fools flourish in my family.
The thought of leaving this house makes us a little wistful, but we know we must do this. We can no longer do the work of maintaining it and have had to hire a gardener. Now that I am the only driver, we need to be in a town with public transportation, one that is near our doctors.
We console ourselves with the thought that we’ve only been in this house since 2005—only eighteen years. Who knows how large the pile of possessions we must weed through would be if we’d been here longer?
The most important things we will keep are the memories, things that take up no room and never need dusting. We’ve had family parties for every holiday, including Easter Egg hunts that are legendary among the grandchildren.
Before the pandemic, we hosted a wine and cheese party for our friends every year on Valentine’s Day.
When we first moved here, the house was brand new, just built and rising from a sea of mud and gravel. Over the years, we turned that barren mudscape into a garden, a little piece of paradise. I can’t tell you how many hours we have spent on the back porch, watching the birds and enjoying the sounds of our small town.
At some point, I know this will be done, and we will be able to sell the house and move on to our new memories. We will have packed what we are keeping and given away the rest.
And tomorrow, I will buy another roll of packing tape, this time the kind that comes with the dispenser.
Credits and Attributions:
The images in today’s post are from the author’s private collection and are copyrighted.