The Light is a Train

One morning this week, I awoke to find my father sitting in the dark in our dining room, a weary king in a matriarchy filled with boxes.

“MCF, I've got a problem.”

“What's wrong?”

“What am I going to do about your mother? We've got three more boxes in the car from your uncle's, and a bag of rocks.”


“Rocks. From the yard. We don't have enough rocks in our yard? I don't know where we're going to put everything. Don't say anything to her though; you'll just get in a fight.”

Over the years, I've accumulated more than I've parted with. I save movie stubs. Toys have sentimental value. Furniture has sentimental value. Comics have value both monetary and sentimental. In many ways, I can understand where my mom is coming from. All the years her brother remained in that house, she never had to say goodbye to the stuff that was there, the things that once belonged to her parents. Though she moved out and got an apartment, and later married my dad and started a life in her own house, that stuff was always there. Now she must part with it. But, as I stubbed my toe on an old laundry basket and my dad trailed off into old man grumbling about getting himself an apartment so we'd have more room here, I realized that sometimes you do have to part with things.

After a two day tag sale, a lot of items remained. I placed an ad on Craigslist, my first experience with that site, and response the following Saturday was overwhelming. I even advertised some of my spare comics and sold a few issues. My mom was so impressed by the response that, while she intended to only do the sale for one day, asked me to extend it. Last Sunday the response wasn't as great though, and once more we had to pack things away in boxes. It was starting to feel like there was no end in sight, that every weekend we would be packing and unpacking old books, glassware, sneakers, and more.

During this past week, my mom asked me to put a new ad up with her cell phone number. I listed most of the major items that were available, and anyone interested could meet us at the house. I mentioned comics in passing, and nearly every inquiry we got was about comics. No one was interested in the ones I had left, though. Midway through the week she decided to do another sale this Saturday and asked me to change the ad. I hoped for a massive response. The more we sold, the less I'd have to carry home.

Things didn't go as well as last week. Some large pieces of furniture finally went, but we were still boxing things. But now sale of the home is final, and we can't continue this indefinitely. Everything has to be cleared out this week, so the stuff packed up this time went not in the back rooms, but into our cars. My mom isn't going to keep it all, but rather bring it in to a thrift shop in a few days. As I filled the last open areas of floor in our dining room and basement, I remembered a year ago when the only thing my mom intended to take from that house was her old piano. Even though a lot of these boxes are temporary additions, a lot will still remain.

My mom's been staying up late every night, going through boxes and sorting and consolidating. I think she's consolidating more than she's actually getting rid of. We have two televisions that she's held on to for a long time, that my dad finally got her to agree to get rid of, in exchange for him agreeing to let her take home two tables. One large set, originally from our living room, displays static when it overheats. A smaller one from her room turned on sporadically, and my dad and I bought her a replacement months ago. I took a vacation day on Friday, and found my mom fiddling with the small set. I looked at my dad who sighed, “I missed the garbage man by five minutes.” My mom was intently working with the antenna and hitting the side of it. “It was just working...we can sell it if I can get it to work...” I was standing there holding bags with birthday presents for her, small things like snacks, a scarf, gloves, a jigsaw puzzle and a CD player. It's very hard to consider bringing new things into this house right now. When I told her that it was just a fluke that the television worked that morning and she quipped like I was a child, “There are no fish swimming around in here,” I dropped the bags on the couch and decided to come back when she was feeling more sane.

I'm glad that after this weekend, there will be no more driving back and forth to the other house. We've done a fantastic job clearing it out for the new owners, and the small residence seems huge with only a few boxes and pieces of furniture in it. The basement is completely empty, and all that remains in the attic is a chair, a bookshelf, and one box of stuff, all things my mom is planning to keep. My cousin is also going to bring over two benches and the aforementioned pair of tables on Sunday. After that, one house will be empty, while another will be very full.

We're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel which, unfortunately, seems to be a freight train. Perhaps my mom will donate a lot of items to the church thrift shop. And maybe all her talk of consolidation isn't wishful thinking, and she'll find a way to organize the basement so there's room to walk once more. I'm thinking that, come Spring and warmer weather, we might have to have a sale or two here. If that doesn't work, then we'll need another house, or at the very least another floor...


Blogger b13 said...

I'm with Rey on this one... and he hasn't even posted yet.

1/28/2007 12:45 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

Isn't "I'm with Rey on this one" a dangerous thing to say? Now he can write anything and you've already agreed to it..."Rocky IV was the best of the series"...."Dogs are a good source of protein"....'Hillary would make a swell president"...

That's some risk you're taking. ;)

1/28/2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger Rey said...

Throw it all out, you need to move out, you need to buy your own rhome, Jerry is a blatantly insane, Darrell is hot and tied with Otis in the bringing sexy back category, Jon Moorehead is truly a PC lover and B13 is dying to take nude shots of dogs.

1/28/2007 9:04 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

Word for word, that is EXACTLY what I thought you were going to say.

1/28/2007 9:45 PM  

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