And so we begin. Every day, after dropping my daughter at the school bus stop, I head over to his house, ring the doorbell – which he never hears – and let myself in. I make sure he has had breakfast, and then we get to work.
Immediately it become apparent that this will NOT be fun. Dad sits at a big captain’s chair while I pull things out items out of cupboards. He watches, frowning, while I work. We begin with the kitchen. It is a wonderful kitchen, with deep built in cupboards, a pantry closet and his own cupboards that he and my mom bought at garage sales early in their marriage and refinished – a blanket box and a dry sink.
I begin with pots and pans –post-war, Alzheimer-inducing aluminum, enamelware and cast-iron fry pans of all sizes — leaving only enough to make him meals. There are a LOT of pots and pans. I can remember holiday meals when many of them were engaged at once: turkey in the oven, potatoes being mashed, boiling beans, baking onions, gravy thickening. But even making a meal for the six people in our family, or ten with guests, or even for fifteen or twenty for one of my parent’s dinner parties – even then, this seems excessive.
I pile pans into boxes to donate – call Just In Time for Foster Youth “would they want them? Not if they’re 70 years old – and shove the boxes out of the way.
All day, I pull out baking dishes, cookie sheets, casseroles, chafing dishes, cupcake pans enough for year’s worth of bake sales for every child in our family, fondue cookers from the 1970s, old pyrex. I find cupboards of decomposing plastic Tupperware, extra sets of special dishes (earthenware only used when we had chili), vases and wooden spoons. It seems endless.
If items look valuable or sentimental, I take a photo and email it to my siblings “Anyone want this?” I write at first. Then “yes or no?” Then “y/n.” Then, “You have 24 hours to respond. After that it gets tossed.” By the end of the day, I have piled one box for me, one box for Dad to take with him, and 6 boxes of kitchen ware. There are four small piles in the living room for my siblings and myself. No one wants aluminum any more. We’d rather have our memories.