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My wife and I were not pack rats so much as we just had a habit of collecting things beyond our house's ability to accommodate :D.  We had hobbies that were varied and sometimes difficult to support in a small city house of 1200 sqft (and 1200 poorly laid out sqft at that).  So we had boxes in the attic and in our dens that were full of various projects we were working on.  Over the last 8 months I have wondered into my wife's den about 5 times, maybe a couple more than that when searching for something for someone else.  I find going into that room is like lighting a fire in my heart that is just too hard to handle for long and I have essentially run back out on a couple occasions.  The other day I decided I was going to start thinking of making a quilt with some of my wife's t-shirts and so I needed to find her crafting square (a plastic square about the right size for a quilting square) to start seeing if it would work to get the main portion of her t-shirts to fit.  I had no idea where in her pile of crafting materials it would be but I thought I would start at the project shelves.  So I started pulling out a couple buckets when I found something I didn't know existed, a partially completed quilted blanket with Joe Cool (Snoopy) on it.  It was a preprinted blanket that she was quilting around but it was clearly something she was doing for me as I am sort of a crazy Snoopy fan.  I don't know when she got it, or how much was still left, I looked at it quickly rolled it back up, pushed it back in the box and ran out of the room.  I went for a 2 hour hike outside after that, needing to separate myself from the entire house for a bit.  

I wonder now, having found this one, what other treasure might be hiding around the house.  I suspect that this blanket was being done while she was doing chemo and she would come home and sit around playing with the blanket for a couple hours when she didn't feel like working before I came home.  But there could be other things just laying around the house that will trigger me again, and as I eventually start to clean out her spaces, I am going to have to build a good shield to allow myself to find these things without losing my head. 

Anyone else find random 'treasure' as they were going through some old piles of things? And did you, like me, run for the hills to hide from the emotion that was involved in finding it? I believe we all have a bit of inner pack rat, and so it is likely everyone has found something that they thought went in the trash or was just a small thing hiding in some corner that held a bunch of memories that were both good and bad at the same time.  Keep on trucking out there folks, it is a long journey but we are all in it together. 

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Comment by Cee on October 27, 2018 at 8:58am

This sounds so familiar - we always said we didn't collect things - things collected us. It seemed if something came into the house it never left and was reaching the point of taking over our lives,

Unfortunately we waited to long to start going through things - started just shortly before he was gone. Then I was left to face that mountain of "stuff".  The first couple of years I did nothing  or very little - I did donate some of his clothes and coats to a shelter that I knew would use them for their clients. The next year I started on his Scout collection and donated a lot of it to where we were very involved - they appreciated it and the money from the sales will send boys to camp. Then I went through all the papers we had collected and sent some to other people to use in their scouting programs and a lot of it wasn't usable and just went out to recycling. That is about as far as I have gotten, my son did come and help pack up his model railroad collection but it still sits on the shelves in the basement. We did donated a pile of the magazines to a model railroad group for them to give out to get people interested. Those were his two big collections - unless you count the camping gear which still sits in the shed and all the tools - he had a bad habit of not putting things away where he could find then and then would go buy another one :).

 I do have pictures of him around the house and a few of the special cards he had given me are tucked at the end of shelves or under magnets on the doors.  We have a video of our wedding that I still have not been able to watch completely but I do like looking at pictures of our wedding especially seeing all the friends and family that were there. And don't even get me started on pictures we both took a lot but never took the time to sort and put them in albums so I have been doing that - I really need him to tell me who some of the people are.

 One thing that makes me sad is we did not have children together and he did not have any, only some nephews and a niece and none of them want any of his or his family things that we have here and I don't know what to do with them.  The same goes for my children, they want nothing to do with most of my family heirlooms - include the family genealogy that I have worked on for years.

 So what do we do with these things? 

Thanks for listening, it is comforting to see I am not alone with this problem.  I hope to hear from others as they work their way through things - it will encourage the rest of us.

  HUGS to all

Comment by vintage56(barb) on August 10, 2018 at 4:22am

Tony, if she was hand quilting the Snoopy quilt, I would be happy to finish it for you, no charge.

Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on August 9, 2018 at 5:02am

I found a new wedding ring in his armoire for our upcoming wedding anniversary on the 4th of July. It was exactly what I had wanted for many years - a 3 one carat diamond ring - one for each kid to use for their wedding or whatever. How he knew this is beyond me since I kept daydreams of such extravagance to myself. The man worked hard enough as it was - why add more burden. Anyhoo, my best guess is he knew I was always thinking of dividing everything by 3 ...
I got to a point I could barely look at his picture w/out screaming. I've read of many widowed placing their spouse's pictures in a drawer. I must've truly loved pain b/c I didn't do that as well as slowly kept working on desentizing myself to his belongings. Arrgh! Often times, it left me breathless. A couple of years later, they faded into the background as part of normal living. The kids love seeing Dad's stuff - holding, touching, remembering. They were young when he died, however, Dad's stuff keeps their precious memories alive & smiling ...
Your heart will slowly heal making it bare able to do more discovery ...
Blessings ...

PS - Our 3400sqft home got too small for all the crapola I accumulated after Bob died. Retail Therapy took its toll on it ...  :-)

Comment by LadyG on August 5, 2018 at 12:57pm

Just checking in with you to say Hi Tony.  How are thing today ?

Comment by Callie2 on August 3, 2018 at 1:28pm

Athena, that is incredible. You were meant to find that ring, I believe. 

Comment by Athena53 on August 3, 2018 at 4:50am

I've told it before but worth retelling- Ron's wedding band disappeared when we stayed briefly in a hotel between the date we sold our last house and moved into the new one.  He'd started taking it off because he was losing weight and was afraid it would fall off unnoticed.  A few months later we went to Iceland and, at his suggestion, bought him a replacement in sterling silver (original was platinum).  

Three months after he died i was cleaning out a cupboard and found one of the little plastic bags of stuff Ron always stashed in his travel kit.  Before I pitched it I checked the contents- some Tums, TWO nail clippers, a few Hydrocodone tablets in case his back acted up- and his original wedding band.  I was so happy I cried.  Both rings are now on a chain around my neck, along with my wedding band and a silver charm with Ron's fingerprint.  My 4-year old granddaughter loves looking at them and hearing the story of all of them again.

Comment by LadyG on August 2, 2018 at 9:49pm

Hi Tony,

I sympathize wholeheartedly. Mine is on a different level but I feel your pain. We lived in the Northwest in a small rented house, and talk about projects!  We were working on one GIANT one that was our retirement dream. We had physically worked on it together for 14 years.  It was "our" baby.  It did not get done before he died. I went into the black hole of despair 6 months later. I couldn't work. I had no help. They raised my rent and I had to move. And that giant project is still sitting in the Northwest unfinished. I had to move our possessions several times and now I pay storage on things while I live in another state helping out my aging parents. 

I go back to the Northwest every 3-4 months to see my son and grandsons and try and do something, anything, with the project and all the stuff but within the first few days I enter the downward spiral of despair. At the end of 2 weeks I am back to the black hole and fleeing that area as fast as I can so it doesn't literally kill me. 

When I am at my parents house I don't even think about the possessions of my old life. Its the only way I can make it. But eventually the time comes for me to go again and the gaping wound of loss rears its ugly head. I am so tired. It is time for me to go in September before the rainy season sets in this year and try to get rid of things but with no help (son has physical problems) and no money to hire help it's an insurmountable task. Every time I am with our possessions it evokes the pain of that first year and not having Jim in my life at all now.  

I am not a fearful person by nature but I am truly afraid of this next trip and not being strong enough to survive it. No one around me really understands but i believe some of the people here can relate.  

Comment by MidnightBear (Tony) on July 31, 2018 at 6:04am

Thanks Dianne and Callie2 - 

I have to say this just because it is amusing, we had a lot of computers and printers and network attached thigns in our house.  We both worked in the IT industry and it was part of our learning process to sort of dabble in these things.  Computers in the house were named after Peanuts characters.  Our Wifi for the longest time was RedBaron, the printer was named Belle, another printer was named Snoopy, my heavy laptop from work was named Olaf.  One of the TV devices was named Spike.  I was just a bit crazy.  I have a shelf full of Peanuts nick nacks.  My wife would buy me Russel Stover chocolates each year with a Peanuts character attached (well twice a year, once near Christmas and one around Valentines).  

Comment by Callie2 on July 30, 2018 at 5:08pm

Tony, our anniversary was a couple weeks after he died. I went down in the basement one day and found the anniversary card in his box of batteries, a place he would be in and out of and I would never look. Yes, I read it and cried. I forgot our anniversary one year—well there was a lot going on with my Mom being in a subacute care facility. He never forgot one, even if it was a sweet card and a rose.

Was the blanket embroidered? I hope you hold onto it and maybe you could find someone to finish it one day. For now, store it until you are able to look through things without becoming too emotional. That may take some time but as long as these things aren’t in the way, just wait. It took me three years to go through some of his things, but by then I could handle it. My son loved Snoopy— we always watched the specials on TV. I used to bribe him with it, if he got his homework done and bath, he could watch!  My favorite was the Red Baron, ha-ha!

Comment by Dianne in Nevada on July 30, 2018 at 9:42am

I love your comment:  "a habit of collecting things beyond our house's ability to accommodate."  I'm there, too, and I think I'm going to use that explanation, Tony. It sounds much better than "pack rat" or "hoarder".  Thank you!

I have procrastinated on going through a lot of the stuff we accumulated in our home. We've lived here for 36 years, so there's a lot of it. But since I don't plan on moving there hasn't been a big rush to tackle this project. I'm now ready to do some simplifying and make some of the spaces my own, so I'm hopeful I'll be able to dig out from under the piles soon.

One thing I did find was an old portfolio of Vern's that had class notes and lesson plans in his handwriting (he was a school teacher). He had beautiful handwriting, so that's a treasure I am keeping. Once I'm gone, our son may choose to get rid of it and the other things I'm keeping that have meaning to me. That's ok. I won't be here to care what he does with my 'stuff'. 

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