Last fall, it was time for my in-laws to move to a nursing home. They both had health issues that prevented them from continuing to stay in their rural home, where they had lived for roughly 40 years. They will be celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary this week.
Forty years in the same location and 65 years of stuff. Yikes!
The house was sold recently and now it’s time to clean out all that 65 years worth of stuff. Obviously, they are in no condition to do it. So it falls to their kids — and I’m married to one of those kids.
But here’s the catch — those kids aren’t kids anymore. And unless they live to at least 110 years of age, not a single one of them can even be considered middle aged.
We’d all tried to get ‘Ma and Pa King’ to move to a smaller house, apartment or condo in town for years. They turned a deaf ear on the subject.
Let’s face it, we knew this time would come and we were well aware on whose shoulders the work would fall. But there’s no satisfaction in saying “I told you so” when there’s no one who disagreed with you in the first place.
So little by little, Mick, his younger brother and sister, have been cleaning the house. A few grandkids have taken some of the larger furniture and purchased the appliances.
But it’s become apparent, other than the items already removed, no one is interested in keeping the older things.
That’s where we step in.
My home isn’t filled with precious antiques, but I do have some things that belonged to my great-grandmas, my grandmas and my mom, and I cherish them. I’m talking things like old potato ricers, those awesome primary colored Pyrex mixing bowls, an old stereoscope and cards, old aluminum water pitchers, my great-grandma’s eye glasses and case in which she wrote “I have diabetes,” the jadeite salt and pepper shakers my late Grandma Perry used every day, my mom’s little lunch pail she carried to school every day in the 1940s and 50s ... maybe not expensive items, but none the less, invaluable to me.
So when it came time to preserve some of my kids’ history from their dad’s side of the family, you bet I’m going to dig through old mildewy boxes to reclaim some of those abandoned and forgotten treasurers.
However, the one thing I refuse to take possession of and care for is my mother-in-law’s collection of novelty salt and pepper shakers. I’m going to be honest, I’ve hated those creepy little things from day one.
We found large framed portraits of Mick’s great-grandparents, covered in dust and cobwebs in the basement, along with a large framed photograph of his grandpa as a young boy standing beside his two older brothers. Not a smile among them. How can someone not be in awe while looking into the eyes of their ancestors? Literally! It’s amazing and I’m only related by marriage.
We also found glass butter churns and a vintage oscillating fan (I’ll have to keep that one away from my grandson).
So anyway ...
Last weekend, Mick made another trip to continue clear out his folks’ place. This time he returned with an old wooden butter press, a full 1930s box of Silver Birch toothpicks and a 1920s glass canning jar with glass lid and wire bale locking system, among other finds
Although not my ‘style,’ the one piece of furniture that did make its way back to our house is an old secretary desk with bookcase that’s been in the family for generations. It’s seen its way through some tough times, including a tornado in 1984, that completely destroyed my in-law’s home, while they waited it out in the basement. So it’s easy to forgive some of the scars on that desk.
Oh, also making the trip back to my house? A set of salt and pepper shakers ...
Contact Dana King at firstname.lastname@example.org