Today the boys and I helped my parents empty out my grandpa's flat. He is 93 and is no longer confident living by himself, so has moved to an assisted living type place, where all his needs are taken care of, cooking, cleaning, washing etc.
My grandpa is a funny old dear, he has lived in the same flat for the past 30 years, lived very frugally, with a definite routine to his days. He has lots of funny little habits. We think he kept hold of every piece of mail that had come through his hands. All the birthday cards we made him as kids, every receipt he ever received, every bill he ever paid, every letter he ever got, every piece of wrapping paper, he had stashed away somewhere in his little flat, mum even found a letter she wrote him on her honeymoon 43years ago!!
It was kind of nice seeing our family history all stored in this place, like a little slice of our lives as seen through his eyes, and what we all mean to him. It was also quite confronting and difficult to disassemble his life down to the bare bones of what he can take with him to his new home. Not very much at all.
A few photos, some clothes and his glasses and hearing aid batteries, and a few other odd and ends with sentimental value. His big stamp collection, put together over so many years will be divided up between his 3 children. Pretty much everything else was surplus to requirements, his furniture, all his meticulous records and papers, all his kitchen stuff, all his paints and painting supplies, all his handiwork (he liked to make things and improvise and fix stuff up), no one needs it in our family. In this material world, all our homes are already overflowing with the accumulation of our own lives.
What do you do with all the stuff gathered through life, things that have meaning and hold memories, but are not really needed anymore, it is not rubbish, it is just someone else's lifes collection.
It was difficult to sort through it all, and fascinating at the same time.
The boys were kept busy, discovering little tins full of this and that squirrelled away in the back of cupboards, stuff from the 'olden days' when every thing was kept 'just in case'.
Some new people in the flat above needed some book shelves, so we helped them out with grandpas shelves. Over the day we managed to empty out the flat till all that was left was a few indents in the carpet, and the cracks in the walls were plain to see. I am sure the owners will be doing some renovating before it is leased again.
We took some things to the op shop, who picked through the boxes and only took what they wanted.
It was hard rubbish collection time in the area, so a lot of things went on the nature strip, we had a lot of things go to new homes while we were bringing other things out, so at least some things will have another life.
I am glad grandpa wasn't with us today, I think I would hate to see my life's possessions having to be dealt with so practically. He would have found it very hard to watch and I know my mum found it a hard job to do. Some parts of getting old are really not nice.
I just had to save his table and chairs and their great retro vibe, the table has a cheery yellow laminex top in the same pattern as my little red table, and needs a bit of restoration work. The chairs are in bad shape, but I think they will look great with some new upholstery and a bit of love. Something that will always remind me of my grandpa, and he will be able to check out what I've done when he visits.I also kept a selection of his tools and a lovely old carpet bag type overnight bag that I grabbed from the skip, I can give these things a new life and make them useful again.
So that is that, the end of an era, of a life of independence, I guess this time will come for all of us, it has made me quite reflective though. Sorry for the slightly down tone of this post, it has been a bit of a confronting day.
I have to remember that although all his stuff has dispersed, he is still around to visit and chat with, and I must make more effort to see him while I can.
Hope you all are having a good day!!