The Seven Stages of Going Through My Parents’ Closets

I have been elected to help my father downsize. I am the youngest of four siblings. I am the only one who lives near his house. I am the only one with a “flexible job” (as a writer) that can lay down my burden during the day to help him and work on my own work at night (as I am doing now, in writing this.)

After we are done, he will move into a retirement place, and the rent from his house will support his care. We’ve been urging him to do this ever since my mother died in 1992. His wife has been urging him to do this since they married in 1993. Even now, at nearly 93, he would like to put it off.

“I’ll think about it,” he says every day when we begin. “Maybe tomorrow.” Aging is always something that may happen tomorrow. But not to him. Never to him.

So we are working our way through 93 years of closets and cabinets, each one packed top to bottom with stuff. And we are working our way through the lifetimes and layers of our own attachments and ideas about our lives, identifiable stages we slip in and out of, like the seven stages of grief.