The good, the bad and the ugly.
That’s what I’ve witnessed this week. I’ve heard that the three life events which channel the very worst behavior in people are death, divorce and moving. All true. I would also add menopause to that list, but I’m no expert.
Actually, I sort of am.
The time has come to physically move my father from a 20-room home into one that is quite a bit smaller; this downsizing gig is a necessity of aging. Anyone over the age of 75 will tell you that the ease of moving from room to room, without a magic carpet, is paramount to an elderly person’s life. And the behemoth in which he resided was impossible to navigate without an escalator, an elevator and a spaceship.
The progress began last month when Nancy and I started bringing bits and pieces of my father’s life to the new house. I thought that if we moved him in increments, it wouldn’t be such a shock to his system.
I may have miscalculated.
It was a shock to his system.
At any rate, we rolled in the big boy last weekend — a dumpster — and almost all the siblings gathered to hoist his crap, er, vintage treasures, into that goliath of garbage.
As in any large family, ours is wrought with vastly varied personalities, mine being the most irritating and controlling, by far. But we all displayed our unattractive moments. The siblings I thought would be an enormous help, were not.
They created more emotional espionage and drama than was necessary. There was laziness, shady shenanigans and too much sassiness for my limited nerve endings. Instead of asking how they can help, they were asking why they couldn’t take built-in benches, trees or lighting fixtures. Every family has their negative rituals and roles, I suppose. That’s the “bad.”
Other siblings were slow to catch on. And by “slow to catch on” I mean not eager to assist. Boring excuses were offered up day after day, and call me crazy but “I have a hammer toe” doesn’t constitute a good enough reason to be unable to hoist chairs, old heaters and three manual typewriters into the dumpster.
When time ran out, some siblings were forced to gather their own sentimental garbage and make off into the night without so much as an 8 mm movie projector removed for my father’s benefit. But thank God the jumbo sombrero got tossed. That would be the “ugly.”
The surprise came when the siblings I thought would offer the least assistance showed up and put up. I didn’t expect much from some of them, mainly because I’d never seen them lift anything heavier than a champagne flute and a stiletto. But I was astonished and delighted at how much they labored and how little they whined. I whined more about my hot flashes and water-retention mid-move than they did about boxing and transporting my father’s very important set of Encyclopedia Britannicas to his new house (because he needs them for his crossword puzzles and nowhere else can a 12-letter word for “bowel impaction” be found.) This was the “good.”
And, so, we all must move on.
Parents, do your children a solid and purge just a tiny bit every day. I promise you, you’ll never use four nutcrackers, a pallet of 8-track tapes and seven bread bags full of twist ties. My father jettisoned tiny parts of his soul into that dumpster, and it was agonizing, but we retained the important stuff: love, life and my high school graduation picture. With mullet.
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three, a librarian and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life.