Keeping Me Honest

Hi all. This post is more about holding myself accountable for a project I’m calling “Declutter Kym.”

Here’s a little background:

Last year, we moved my mom into a long-term care facility. (Before you ask, she’s fine. There have been no corona cases at her place, at least for now. Feel free to send prayers, good karma, whatever, that it stays that way.)

Anyway, Mom moved straight from the hospital to her new place, which left me the job of sorting, winnowing down, and cleaning out her belongings. She lived in a one-bedroom, one-floor apartment with four rooms including the bathroom.

It was not a large place.

Still, it’s amazing how much you can fit into a little place when you’re motivated, isn’t it?

Over the course of a month, I dug through Mom’s belongings, moving what she could use, and trying to make sure she had what she valued, while finding homes for the rest.

Fortunately, I had help. Darling Daughter gave up two of her weekends off to work with me, and The Engineer provided extra muscle and his van for the thrift shop donation and recycle bin trips, of which there were many. I also had two good friends help me sort out the last, for which I will be eternally grateful.

I wrote about some of this in an earlier post.

That experience caused me to look at my many, oh, so many, possessions with a new eye, and vow to pare them down to a more manageable amount.

You see, our house is too big for us and has been for years. We bought it because Mom was going to live with us (failed experiment), Darling Daughter was still in residence, and we had visitors from out of town fairly frequently.

Most of that is no longer true. It’s just The Engineer and I, and in a few years, we’ll move into a smaller place, which is another good reason to get rid of things.

Despite this, I ended up bringing “stuff” from Mom’s house to ours. I think she hoped we would sort of enfold all her extra items into our household, but even I drew the line at that.

Mostly, I took kitchen utensils and other useful items, but there were some sentimental objects too, and a huge collection of photos.

The albums took many evenings to sort through, and I’ve finally begun the process of scanning those relevant to my genealogy and loosely organizing the whole collection in archival envelopes and boxes.

Maybe someday I’ll sort through my own pictures and do the same.

First, I have other things I need to part with.

I began with the low-hanging fruit, books and clothing, keeping what I use or think I might use, and donating the rest.

In the ensuing months, however, I’ve learned this paring down process will need repeating  because my clothing and books again seem out of control.

Then there were the china cabinets.

I had a small corner cupboard, plus another small one Mom left after her brief residence with us. When we moved her, we brought home another, a larger, “primitive” one someone had made for her apartment.

I’d always liked that cupboard, homemade as it was, but face it, no one needs three china cabinets.

Our kitchen has enough cupboard space that I probably don’t need one. Yet I’d managed to fill two with garage sale treasures — Willow Ware, Lusterware, and bits of English china I’d collected through the years — and now brought a third one home.

Something had to be done before I managed to fill that one up too.  After a few weeks of trying to give it to friends, we donated Mom’s little one to a thrift store.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Darling Daughter was moving with into a house with her partner.

“Do you still have that little china cupboard that was Grandma’s?” she asked.


I looked again at the little corner cupboard (isn’t corner-shaped furniture clever?) and all the stuff inside.

I’d spent years and good money collecting those things, and had been putting off cleaning it out because that would be like admitting I’d wasted that money.

On the other hand, would anyone really buy any of it? Even if someone did, was the money I might recoup worth the time and effort it took to sell it?

Text to Darling Daughter: Do you want little corner china cabinet?

Response: Sure.

Response from Mom when I told her what was happening: What happened to my little cabinet?

See what I mean about enfolding her items into our household? In her mind, everything she owned is now living at my house.

Answer: Donated to Hospice shop.

Mom: I paid $150 for that!

Then she said she knew we couldn’t keep everything and it was okay.

Sunday, I cleaned out the collectibles, filling six empty kombucha boxes to take to the hospice shop. Working at a grocery store has proven very handy during the last year, if only as a continuing source of empty boxes :-).

This motivated me so much that today I sorted through my purses. I won’t tell you how many I’m getting rid of because it’s embarassing to own that many, but I’ll tell you I’m keeping about eight or ten, which should give you an idea.

In my defense, I bought most from charity shops and have used them all, but I no longer live a life that requires endless changes of purses. In fact, I’ve been using the same two for the last six months.

I know I still have too many.

It’s a process, remember?

And now, I need to look at those books again. Darling Daughter inherited a bookshelf from Mom, which we’ve been storing. Some of my books have accidentally migrated onto it, and I need to clear them out so we can take it to her.