Keep, Toss, Donate

I’m not a very sentimental person. At least, I’m not someone who gets attached to things. Fortunately, this trait comes in handy when it’s time to do a purge of “stuff” – even when the stuff isn’t mine. In 2010, we moved my parents from the house they had lived in for over 45 years to a much smaller house right across the street from us. My purging skills came in handy because my Mama was the complete opposite of me; for Mama, the memories and the items were tied together so she didn’t get rid of much. Let’s just say there was a lot of stuff to go through. We made many trips to the landfill and Goodwill. Of course, there was also a pile of things that I set aside for family as well.

Also in 2010 we moved my mother-in-law from her condominium into an Assisted Living facility. Fortunately, my in-laws had already downsized a couple of times: the first when they moved from the home where they raised their sons into an apartment, the second when my mother-in-law moved from the apartment to a condo after the death of my father-in-law. So, while we had some things to go through, it was nowhere near as much as what we dealt with when my parents moved.

The next opportunity to practice my “skills” came after my Daddy’s death. Kenn and I were still working full-time so Mama moved to North Carolina to live with my oldest sister and her husband. We tried to do some cleaning out before Mama moved but it was too hard on her so most of it took place after she left. This was the hardest one. There were a lot of items that went to friends and family but there was still a bunch left. This was the hardest purge for me. I was heartbroken and missing my Daddy and Mama’s leaving was kind of like losing her too. Yet, we needed to get the house cleaned out so that the owner could rent it out again. I did as much as I could but once I hit the I-can’t-do-this-anymore wall, we took the remaining boxes of stuff and stored them at our house. When we unexpectedly found our dream home a few months later, all of those boxes moved with us.

I steadfastly ignored the stack of boxes for as long as I could but finally had to grit my teeth and start working my way through them. Some were easy such as the boxes and boxes (and boxes) of papers to shred. Fifty year old income tax returns and bank statements anyone? However, there are the things that fall into What The Fluff territory that I have no idea to what to do with; the things that seem like they would be important to someone, but who? My Daddy was into model railroading and we had several boxes of N gauge train cars and tracks, miniature buildings, etc. Kenn had a brilliant idea and contacted the local model railroading association who gladly took all of the railroading paraphernalia off our hands. I came across several metal boxes containing photographic slides among my Daddy’s things. The photos dated back to the 1940s and 50s; none of them were labeled. I didn’t know who any of the people in the pictures were and had no way of finding out. Even though it hurt my soul a little, these pictures went into the trash. Cold? Possibly. However, I just can’t bring myself to keep boxes of photos that mean nothing to me.

Now I find myself faced with items like the ones pictured: newspapers and magazines dating back to the first moonwalk and possibly other historic events. These aren’t newspapers that have been properly preserved; they are folded in half and yellowed with age. However, I can’t just toss them because of their historical significance. So, dear readers, do you have any recommendations? A Twitter friend recommended contacting local museums however, where I live there are no local museums, LOL.

Dealing with all of this stuff for so many years has made me determined to not leave our boys with a mountain of crap to deal with when Kenn and I shuffle off this mortal coil. Of course, there will be some stuff, that’s unavoidable. Sorry, not sorry, for the random rocks and baggies of shark’s teeth guys!

Until next time, happy (and hopefully uncluttered) trails!

A Cure for the February Blues

February tends to be a rough month for me. In 2010 Kenn and I moved my parents from my childhood home (their home of almost 50 years) to the house right across the street from us. They remained there until my daddy died on February 16, 2016. Daddy had been Mama’s primary caretaker until about 3 months before his death. However, Kenn and I were both still working full-time and in-home care for Mama was prohibitively expensive so she moved to North Carolina to live with my oldest sister and her husband. Daddy’s death was hard enough but Mama’s move immediately afterward felt almost like losing her. We made regular trips to NC to visit but it was obvious that Mama’s health was also failing; she died on February 24, 2017. (My sisters and I would not have been surprised if she had died on the anniversary of Daddy’s death.)

Everyone’s grief journey is different. My experience is that grief lessens over time but it doesn’t completely fade. I also don’t look at the calendar and go “Oh, wow. It’s February. I need to be sad.” Invariably what happens is that I find myself feeling blue and wondering what in the heck is going on and eventually realizing “Oh. It’s February. No wonder my heart is aching.” Kenn is a great support and is always willing to provide hugs as needed. I also turn to Mass Effect, my favorite video game, and spend time saving the galaxy with my virtual friends. (What can I say? Some people have comfort foods or books or movies. I have a comfort video game.)

Mama and Daddy

The picture above is one of my favorites of Mama and Daddy. It was taken at our local Cracker Barrel (their favorite restaurant) in February 2015.

This year, I have something new to ease the February blues. Earlier this month, our oldest son and daughter-in-law welcomed twins. Meeting (and cuddling) these new little ones has definitely brightened my life. I will always miss my parents and the anniversaries of their deaths will always be hard, but having two new lives to celebrate (year round, not just in February) will certainly make things easier going forward.

Until next time, happy trails and… take the time to hug your loved ones and tell them how you feel.

Not Your Average Grammie

I am many things: a woman of faith, a wife, a mom, a Grammie, a writer, a blogger, and much to most people’s surprise, a gamer. The long-awaited remastered version of my favorite video game series, Mass Effect, releases tomorrow and I am SO EXCITED. (For the non-gamers reading this, a remaster basically means that the graphics and game play have been tweaked and improved without making any changes to the plot/storyline.)

I’m not sure why people are always so shocked to find out that I’m a gamer. I’m an avid reader and writer and video games are just interactive stories. My favorite games are role-playing games or RPGs. RPGs give your character (or avatar) a chance to interact with the other characters and make choices relating to the storyline and/or your character’s behavior. (I can’t be mean, even in games.)

The Mass Effect series has been a part of my life since the first game released in 2007. It’s hard to explain what these games mean to me. Only another gamer can understand how I feel about these characters. Are they real? No. Are they my friends? Yes. Just like some people re-read favorite books, and re-watch favorite movies, I find myself going back to these games over and over again simply because I miss the characters.

#MyShepard

We all have our own ways of dealing with sadness and grief. When the world is too much for me to bear, I play Mass Effect. My virtual friends and I tackle saving the galaxy together until I can face reality again. Over the course of eighteen months during 2016 and 2017 my husband and I lost our three remaining parents. Mass Effect is the only thing that kept the grief from being overwhelming. I can’t even tell you how many times I played through the series. I knew I was starting to heal when I was ready to play something else.

I can’t wait to replay my favorite games and see the changes/improvements that have been made. In some ways, it will be like playing for the the first time – again. So, if you need me over the next few days, I’ll be in my basement, gaming.

Me and my N7 helmet