A death in the family is something that will shake you up and turn you upside down. Even though our family is not directly involved in the activities required for these funeral preparations, etc., we are still impacted in other ways. Deputy Dave has been asked to be a Pallbearer for the funeral this coming Wednesday at noon; however, he is not allowed time off from work for a death in the family unless it is an immediate family member...aunts and uncles are not considered immediate enough.
Also, the Sheriff's Dept. is short-handed about 600+ Deputies, so time off is not something that comes easy these days, even with seniority. So, it doesn't look as if he will be able to attend the funeral, but he will be going in uniform to the wake on Tuesday, today, to pay respects to his Aunt Shirley.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law will be staying at our house during the days of the Wake and Funeral. My father-in-law has lost a sister. I know this is a tough time for him to lose more of his chain of history...more connections to his past are disappearing. I feel for him.
Saturday night, my in-laws came over and we played Dominoes for a few hours, a game I love to play called "Chicken-Foot." I guess it'd be natural that I'd like that game, considering I have chickens in the backyard. It's nice to be able to visit with them, especially since they like playing games. Everyone in my family loves to play cards, dominoes, and board games; we are very competitive. My daughters knew how to play Poker by the time they were in Kindergarten. Yep, they sure did. Five-card draw, Seven-card stud, Mexican Sweat, and on and on.
Our weekend family gatherings included each adult bringing their money jar so we could play some penny-poker. That penny-poker sometimes graduated into higher coins...nickels, dimes, quarters and the pot would grow and grow. We always joked that we were gambling away our kids' college funds. At least all of us adult siblings would have the chance to spend quality time together, with good home-cooked food and laughs that went into the wee morning hours. Our children, all cousins, were able to play together for hours as us parents roared while playing our games. There is no doubt, we adults were the biggest kids of all.
I think about all of these wonderful times we've had with our brothers and sisters, then I look at my father-in-law and think about his sister dying. It must be terrible to lose a sibling...someone you played with during childhood, someone who likely drove you nuts, someone who knew all the good and the bad of home-life. That person becomes a touch-stone, a reminder of where you come from. For them to pass away, it must seem as if a part of you and your past are also dying.
So, I tried my best to distract my father-in-law over the weekend. I made him dinner and we all ate together in the formal dining room like a good family. We told too many jokes that made my side hurt with laughter. We played Dominoes and us girls whipped the boys butts...I have grace, but not SO MUCH that I will lose on purpose. No way! And we just enjoy being with Deputy Dave's parents for the short time we get to see them.
They are full-time RVer's who long ago sold SOME of what they had and the left-over things were sent to the homes of their four children. None of us children with our four separate households realized that we would be enlisted to keep so many of their belongings in our attics or in our living rooms, or bedrooms or wherever a place could be found. None of us realized the lengthy commitment we'd be making in taking in large pieces of furniture or big bulky boxes that we certainly didn't want to add to our own crammed attic and closet space.
But, those parents were tricky. I think my mother-in-law tried to convince everyone that they were fortunate to "babysit" these things.
It got worse, once their own children no longer had extra room for all of their belongings, then the RVer's shoved a few straggler things onto the one grown grandchild who had a small house available. There was no shame in spreading all their stuff around so that they would, essentially, still have all their stuff around.
So, there is a BIG hitch when they say they sold everything or when they claim to live with minimal "stuff." That's not exactly true...well...yes...THEY are living with minimal stuff in their RV while the rest of the family is crammed in with their things. If the in-law's things were collected and put into one area, it'd be shocking to see how significant their things would add up to be when not separated...all of us would have to confront how we've been totally suckered into this "free-storage" plan of theirs over the past 15 years.
I guess they had us all figured out. It's been a good one. They are two smart cookies those in-laws of mine.
It's kind of funny. How can people who live in an RV have so much freakin stuff? Sometimes, I think we all just want to say, "Get a house already and come take your stuff back!"
They aren't exactly the "free" snowbirds they had pictured themselves to be. If you are having someone "babysit" your furniture along with boxes and boxes of your belongings, then you aren't really doing anything other than temporarily living without your belongings while someone else is forced to live with them.
If any of us have understood these "retirement" plans beforehand, the in-laws just might have been required to get a nice climate-controlled storage facility to hold all of their things. Each Christmas, we have to listen to someone mumble and grumble about having to push aside the RVer's boxes and boxes of things so that the household could get to their own tree and decorations. It's comical.
The kicker is...the stuff doesn't stop showing up. It keeps getting dumped off into Deputy Dave's garage. Our garage may be packed to the ceiling, but Deputy Dave knows exactly what is in that garage and he knows exactly what must be done to pull out his utility trailer with the lawn tractor and if anything shows up to block it, which it will after his parents have visited, then he's ready to blow a gasket. And we're not talking small stuff that you might overlook...the latest was two worn out moutain bikes with rusty parts. Uh, Thanks?
I know one thing is for sure, we've been getting rid of the excess that continually shows up in our two-car garage because we have NOT had room for that stuff to begin with and we certainly don't want to deal with having to move it all to our acreage. Once we're on our acreage, I can tell you with certainty that Deputy Dave will absolutely not volunteer his clean, organized space as extra storage space for someone else. Just because he might have a clean corner in his workshop does not mean he will be looking to fill it up. He might want it to stay cleared out and uncluttered.
I'm sure he will make it clear that his workshop is not a drop off zone and that if he hasn't purchased something for his shop after great consideration, then he will not be dedicating precious space for it to sit and get in his way. He's already a fairly organized guy; I can only imagine how he'll be happy to get his workshop in order and to keep it exactly as he pleases.
So, I guess the funeral will come and go, then my in-laws will be back on the road. I'm hoping they don't show up with yet another item to "set aside" in our jam-packed garage. It seems inevitable, yet almost like a skit out of Carol Burnette.
I know the in-laws are eager to get back to their RV that they left in Arizona after getting the call about Aunt Shirley passing away. Let's just hope our visit with the in-laws at our house brings only the two of them with their lovely stories and side-aching jokes and NO more garage stuff. Yes, I'll take the used books because I actually READ them, but Deputy Dave's garage is closed to anything extra. He's up to his eyeballs in garage stress already.
When the day comes to move out of our home, I am not quite sure what we will be expected to do with their old, bulky, out-dated, oak three-piece entertainment center that we've been forced to tote around with us for years. It's been against a garage side-wall, taking up a lot of space that would have been better suited to industrial shelving with ease of access. What are we going to do with that monstrous entertainment center that is designed for an old box-style television? I really don't want to move it to our property only to watch it sit in the new workshop for another fifteen years while in appropriately used for odd storage items.
We'll have to figure something out with the in-laws very quickly.
I don't mind holding boxes of things for my mother-in-law. She just has a lot of stuff. A lot of collectibles, all kinds of collectibles and knick-knacks galore. I love how my mother-in-law loves to tell each of her daughter-in-law's, "You sure have a lot of stuff," while we're the women holding onto the mother-in-law's numerous collections. It's really quite funny if you think about it.
When she says that to me, I just say, "Yes, I do...and look...it's all inside MY house! How about that unique concept?!"
Lucky for me, the sneaky mother-in-law also has a fabulous sense of humor. She's knows exactly what this is all about, even if she bats her eyes and plays innocent. We're onto the "storage plan." It only took us fifteen years though to completely figure it out. We're slow, but we got there! That's what counts. We've got them figured out!
I don't think she gets it sometimes because I think she has convenient memory lapses about their storage plan that's based upon their four children and one of their grandchildren. Regardless, our moving process will give us a good chance to re-take inventory.
In the opposite direction, this weekend I sent my oldest daughter to her home with another large box of things from her bedroom. It was time for her to decide what to do with those things. Did she still want the pink box full of notes from Junior High? I don't know...so I put all of those kinds of things in the big box so she can decide while sitting in her own house.
I guess our lives are full of THINGS. I look around and so much of our home is full of items that have great meaning from being passed down through several generations. Other things have served a temporary purpose and can really hit the road. Preparing for our move has forced us to take stock of what we own and what we REALLY want to take with us.
Looks like we're disposing ourselves of quite a lot of furnishings. Sometimes I'm a bit amazed at how much we're about to part with since we worked so hard to be able to buy it. However, a cabin won't be as accommodating as this house when it comes to furnishings. First of all, we will no longer need three dining areas. We won't need our King-sized bed with the large accessory pieces of furniture that goes with it. We won't need two leather seating groups. We won't need executive-sized office furniture and equipment. And we won't need all of the kitchen gadgets that have been cluttering our cabinetry and counterspace.
I guess this week has made me think a lot about life and death and the things that we choose to surround ourselves with...those things should make us smile, not cringe. On this point, I'm happy that I've put extra consideration into what we let enter our private domain. I am picky, that's for sure.
I'd rather have less in our house, but the contents should be higher quality. If it is going to come into our house or workshop, it better have a dang good reason to be there and the DESIRE to own it better be flying off the scale or it's not allowed. As for the "babysitting" of items belonging to someone else...There's no sense in adding more clutter to our lives so that others can live without it. I guess the rule should be, if it's dropped off at our house, be prepared to part with it permanently. Otherwise, get a storage facility. I don't think we want to be storage buddies any longer.
No offense, it's just...we're preparing to retire and that means preparing for an easier life...which amounts to...less stuff. Period.
One day, my kids will probably inherit a small farm. Deputy Dave and I will have nice things for our girls to have for their own households, if they wish. If not, they can ask other members in the family if they'd like the family heirlooms, if not...there's always E-Bay.