We all have to do it at one time or another. Clean out the personal items of a relative who has died.
(Note: Mother, Grandparent, Sibling, Child or Spouse can be substituted here.)
Sometimes friends can help separate sentimental objects to be saved and cherished from thrift store rejects. Each piece of clothing or personal effect has it’s own story. These were the everyday arrangements this person wanted to use and save.
There are ties from decades old use. Some are showing the wear and tear of favorites to others still in the boxes given on Father’s day. Some have intricate hand sewn designs and others are simply utilitarian. Take some home to wear or take to the Vintage shop for sale? Wearing your dad’s tie might be a sign of honor or just kinda creepy?
Belts are the same. Socks, worn out shoes, underwear, pajamas are things that should go to the trash. They are a bit too personal to be washed and worn. Shirts and slacks of many different sizes through many different weights are usually 10 years old and out of style for older people don’t keep up with fashion but rather tend to practicality. Jackets and sweaters and sweatshirts generally show the gentle wear of favorites. A sports coat that my mother sewed patches on the sleeves was a go-to standard. Tuxedos and cumberbuns and ruffled shirts somewhat are useful if there are occasions to wear them or passed to the next generation as retro. The same is true for moldy service uniforms. Hats that were all the rage when he was growing up are no longer worn.
Then the bathroom items like toothbrush, shaving mug, two-sided razor, combs and hairbrushes are gathered to decide whether to keep or throw away. Gels, deodorants, and even pills and potions must be cleared out.
Tools, fishing rods, golf clubs, and anything else your dad decided to save but you mother doesn’t want around has to go. In many cases these items clean out her garage and fills up your garage. Sentimental value is costly.
Jewelry has the most heart aching decisions for future homes. These were items cherished by your father. Some are old fraternity pins or school tie clips or badges worn on certain occasions while others are merely shiny worthless bling. His father’s gold watch should be passed down to the eldest son for tradition but the other Timex watches given as Christmas presents that stopped long ago.
Cleaning out your father’s closet can often find surprises. A bundle of secret letters to someone you never heard of. Some intimate photos not expected from your dad. Maybe a trunk of family photos your father had stored away from a previous time, saved but forgotten. Maybe even a gun, but none of these artifacts were ever discussed but were revealed in your excavation.
When you open your closet door and look at all your tee-shirts and funny shirts and rows of shoes and boots, remember someday someone else will have to clean all this out.