Posts Tagged ‘declutter’

Declutter – An Old Newspaper Clipping

As I continue to declutter and scan items from my mother's scrapbooks, I come across a fragile, yellowed newspaper clipping. Even though the accident had happened almost sixty-nine years ago, I remember as though it were yesterday. 

On May 6, 1944, thirteen years old and suffering from German measles, I lay in bed, feverish, headachy, and itchy, unable to sleep. Around 11:00 p.m., I heard the phone ring and my dad answer. He woke my mother; they whispered; she stifled a cry of anguish. More phone calls. After thirty minutes or so, they came to my room to tell me that my beloved Grandpa Nikkel was dead. The next day they traveled to Colorado to attend the funeral; I was left to care for my nine-year-old brother and five-year-old sister (with help from a neighbor). It was the first time that death had come close to me and I was exceedingly sad.

But I had never seen that clipping until today:   

Funeral services will be conducted tomorrow for Bernhard Nikkel who was killed Saturday evening by the compeller of an airplane soon after his son, William Nikkel, had landed the machine near the farm home.

The tragic accident occurred as preparations were being made to moor the plane near the Nikkel house for the night. A landing was made at the Nikkel farm and after an exchange of greetings it was decided to taxi the plane across a fence to place it near the house for the night. The elder Nikkel and the passenger of the plane were holding down the wires to allow the pilot to take the machine to the parking spot and some rocks interfered with the movement of the wheels.

Mr. Nikkel removed one rock and threw it aside and had picked up another. No one saw what happened, but it is presumed that as the man straightened up he probably lost his balance and pitched forward into the whirling propeller. He was struck on the head, the blow severing the top of the skull. A doctor was summoned as soon as someone could get to a telephone, however he had died instantly….

I had always known more or less how it had occurred, but, oh, my God…

My Uncle Bill never fully recovered from the event. Who could?

He tried to find peace. In my next post I will share the poem I found with the clipping. 

Wow! It Pays to Declutter!

Just when I'm in the middle of writing my annual (?) blog about decluttering. Just when I'm in the middle of my annual (no question mark) decluttering projects. Just when it is all getting boring and ho-hum – been there, done that, every dang year….

I was cleaning out the middle drawer of my desk yesterday. Way in the back I have a couple of little boxes that are space-holders so that the divider with all the neat little compartments doesn't slip back there. 

Well, I pulled them out and guess what? In one of them was $81. The same $81 dollars that Les gave me for my 81st birthday, a year ago last October. The same $81 dollars that I stashed there in a quick moment to hide it just before we left on a trip. (I never leave money in the house so that was odd.) The same $81 dollars that I had rummaged through every drawer in the house to find. I had this vague recollection of hiding it far in the back of somewhere, but finally gave up.

And then two hours later, I removed everything under the sink in the basement, wiped the shelf, and put back the trays, the vinegar bottle, and the little brushes. And just before I shoved in the old canner with all the rags, I impulsively rummaged through the rags. OCD, perhaps.

And guess what? There at the bottom were my favorite pair of red "cheater" glasses. In the rag bag.

Anyone want to guess how long and how hard I had looked for them?

Wow. It pays to declutter.

Probably pays to declutter our minds, too. Who knows what we will find?  

And what have you found when you deep-clean?

 

It’s January. Declutter.

Last January I wrote a series of posts on decluttering, because this is the month I try to get that done in real life. I still have hope that I will get to it this month, but I’m getting a frightfully late start, so we’ll see. Who wants to declutter in February, the month of love?

However, we can start with this story:

My dear mother died almost eighteen years ago and my beloved father followed three years later. (Those numbers astound me. It seems as if it could have been yesterday. Of course time has mitigated the pain somewhat and I don’t think about them every hour on the hour anymore, but it still hurts to actually stop and look at their photographs hanging in the hallway. Most days I avert my eyes. And I would give almost anything to spend an afternoon with them to “catch up.”)

When my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving us three grown children orphaned, I had just had major abdominal surgery. In the ensuing six weeks, my brother, my sister, and I engaged in the usual frenzied activity that often follows a death. We cleaned out his belongings; we held an estate sale; we sold the house. In our hurry, a lot of paper-related items came to reside in my home.

This past week, some fourteen and one half years later, I invited my brother and sister to spend a full day with me – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – so we could finally deal with the two overflowing drawers, three large heavy totes, and the two-drawer file cabinet that contained the rest of their effects, multiple scrapbooks with multiple pictures, and almost sixty-six years of marital history.

(I stand corrected about the meals. Actually the three of us ate so much for breakfast that we elected to skip lunch and have an early dinner.)

While we definitely had a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, an emotional and physical adventure was had by all.

We tried to sort out and keep anything clearly historical in case one of the grandchildren or great-grandchildren should want to do a genealogy or write a book someday. Or just know from whence they came.

Then we dismantled some of the scrapbooks, each of us claiming the pictures that pertained to our own families. But how do you tear apart volume after volume that your mother had so artistically and painstakingly put together? You might as well tear out your heart.

On the other hand, what good are the scrapbooks if they are stored in my basement? And why would we ask our children to make these kinds of decisions? They already had received many mementos when Mom and Dad died.

So how do you throw away piles of old pictures? Even if you don’t know the names of the people in them? Even if your children will most certainly not know the names? These were real people. They don’t deserve to be tossed away. But as the oldest person left in our family, if I don’t know who or what the pictures are, it seemed useless to keep them.

How do you toss the many beautiful anniversary and birthday cards, invariably signed “Love,” from Paul to Bertha and Bertha to Paul? We ended up tearing off the beautiful fronts and sending them to St. Jude’s Card Project for use in making new cards.

How do you discard letters from friends who clearly loved your parents a great deal, even if your parents and their friends are gone?

It was a difficult day.

How did we do it?

With pain in our guts and holes in our hearts.

Declutter Your Life – Papers

As I continue to go through files, empty drawers, and toss old calendars, I remember that I did a series on decluttering last year. Since I have a lot of new followers, I'd like to post that series again. I will probably edit a bit, too, because anything I've written before always gets edited. Whether it needs it or not.

Here is the first one:

Forget the play-offs, the Super Bowl, and folderol. January at my house is reserved for cleaning my office and files. That's fortunate, because I am usually so tired of crumpled wrapping paper, bedraggled bows, and cartons of half-eaten fruitcake that I am ready to be ruthless!

Of course, with taxes coming up, the financial files were first—the many EOBs (Explanation of Benefits), the twelve bank statements for each of four different accounts, the pages of hassles with the credit company, the receipts from purchases (some for things useful, others not so much), the letters long since answered, the letters that never got answered.

As for the seven other file drawers, each year I try to leave less of my life for my children to sort. There are, of course, a number of items I need as long as I continue to speak and market books. But I also have tall stacks of various marketing strategies that are already out of date. Wake up to 2013, woman.

Some things I leave because I want the kids and grandkids to see me as a real person. Some things I still have because I'd like at least one of the four to say, "Wow! Mom actually did this?!"

And some I keep because I can't bear to throw those parts of myself away—not yet. They prove I am alive.

But now it's the first full week of February and every drawer feels and looks emptier. Many books on the shelves have moved on to someone who can use them now. I cleared the clippings taped to the hutch above my desk so new pictures and pithier quotes can take their place.

And I find this year, as I did last year and the year before, that those pieces of paper, those scraps of history, those little mementos matter less each time I clean my office.

Once again I tell myself that my authenic life-and-legacy resides in my soul and in the souls of others.

Empty those wastebaskets and recycling bins.