September 2008 Archives

September 1, 2008

Cleaning Out The House: Dealing With Dad's Weird Stuff


Recently, the New York Times published an article, at once fascinating and chilling -- at least for those of us with parents who "collect" things. Imagine having to go through your deceased father's house to cull out what's valuable and what's not --especially when your father was a noted collector of historical relics, kept few or no records, and had amassed a collection of more than 3,000 objects, including the purported remains of the severed penis of Napoleon Bonaparte!

Says his daughter, Evan Lattimer, about the job of researching and cataloging the objects: "I sleep about three to five hours a night. This is all I do."

Most of us, of course, don't have quite that task in front of us, but most of us, sooner or later, will have to deal with the lifetime of things left behind by our parents, or assist them in downsizing when they decide to move to a smaller home or to an assisted living facility.

The AARP, in one of its most requested articles, Conquering Clutter, gets to the root of why this can be such a painful and difficult process: the objects aren't just clutter. In fact, "the items that had been used the least were the hardest to throw out, symbolizing as they did not fond memory but never-tapped potential. They were... artifacts of unused life." 

Here are some handy tips to help a parent (or anyone, really) get rid of some of that stuff now.

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