Crappola Lane

At what point do seniors become oblivious to the fact that all of their old “stuff” only has value to them – not their kids, grand kids and probably not even the Salvation Army.  At what age do they stop Spring Cleaning and start accumulating.

I know I’ve talked before about cleaning out the house and Mom’s propensity toward holding onto all kinds of things, like a 52-year-old tin of paprika.  What I haven’t talked about much is the one remaining area in the house that still holds Mom’s, umm, how do I put this delicately?  Artifacts?  Memories?  No, I’ll use the perfect noun.  Crap!  And where are these treasures currently gathering dust?  Mom’s bedroom, that’s where.

We were finally able to replace her tub-shower with a new walk-in shower because the 40-plus-year-old unit was cracked, discolored and it was becoming more and more difficult for her to climb in and out of the tub to take a shower.  Before the remodel started, we realized we were going to have to clean out her bathroom and the dressing area, which is built-in just outside the bathroom.  It’s cluttered, grungy, and covered in twenty-year-old pressed power dust.  Instead of cleaning occasionally, Mom tried to mask the mess by laying down a white tea towel.  The problem with that is it hasn’t been laundered in almost twenty years, so now it’s a corpse-grey tea towel covered in twenty-year old pressed power dust.

The top of the dressing table is cluttered with assorted bottles of nail polish and perfume that haven’t been used since 1998, an empty tube of Avon hand cream, a trial size hair spray from a trip to Laughlin in 2001, multiple combs and hair picks for primping her tightly permed hair, and various sized tweezers, nail clippers, pins, needles, used Q-tips and ear wax encrusted bobby pins. 

There are three fairly good sized drawers, each of which is packed with even more crap.  Oh gee, let me list just a few of the priceless items.  There are butane canister refills for her curling iron (which hasn’t been fired up for a decade), a full set of bristly hair rollers and pink plastic picks (that haven’t been used since the mid-nineties), three jars of Podiatrist Secret Total Foot Care Recovery cream (brought from Michigan in the early 80’s), a half a dozen butane-powered curling irons, and several empty Avon boxes.  This is just in the top drawer.

Then there’s her closet.  It’s a nice size walk-in and has floor-to-ceiling shelves on the back wall.  This is where she stashes her Publisher’s Clearing House goodies in the hopes that Bill and I won’t notice that she’s still ordering this junk.  At one point – I think around the time of the second garage sale in the summer of ’09 – I had the shelves pretty well cleared out so she could start storing her shoes and purses on them instead of above her clothes where it’s harder for her to reach.  Over the course of the last two years, her purses remain untouched on the top shelf, while her shoes are now piling up under a chair in her bedroom and the empty shelves are gradually filling with Pedi-eggs, toe spreaders, boxes of ink pens, magnifying lenses with built-in lights, dozens of tubes of Crazy Glue, LED lit key chains, envelope openers, coupon slicers, even more butane canisters, and that’s just one shelf.

Bill asked why I didn’t get rid of this stuff when I was here during the summer before our move and in a constant cleaning frenzy.  I told him it might have been the trip when I threw out my back and I didn’t have time, or it might have been because Mom’s bedroom is the last bastion of her independence and I didn’t want to mess with it.  Or it could have been that I wanted to save at least one trip down Crappola Lane for Bill.  And this will be it.

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