I’m not ready!

I’m not ready!

Things pile up, and I keep digging myself out. Sometimes literally, as when I was moving my sister’s household into a tiny assisted living apartment last summer and then finding good homes for what didn’t fit and recycling everything else possible. One son, helping, said if she’d disposed of all the many years’ worth of paper in a timely fashion, none of it would have been recycled. A happy thought.

She’s not a hoarder, but she’d call herself a packrat. The older I get, the less I want to be one.

But it’s just plain work to dig out. Not only the physical effort, and these days I need help with some of that. But the decisions! I’m stuck with making those myself. Sorting clothes and books and plain (or fancy) things doesn’t give me much trouble, not that I’m all that neat. But sorting through ideas for stories I’m not ready to write . . . how will I know when it’s time to toss them? Is there anything I’d hate for someone else to see when I’m past doing the sorting myself? For that matter, am I even interested in notes I wrote years ago? I ought to dump the lot of them. Make more room for what I think I need to keep.

And yet . . .

I remember sitting in an airport with my mother once, killing time before one of us (I forget which one) had to get on a plane. So I started asking about things I knew she knew from way back, and she told me. Will I ever use those notes on how to start a Model T Ford? Or how to caponize a chicken (with drawings)? Not things that come up in casual conversation, but I suppose they might be useful sometime, and they were from Mom, after all. As a girl, she learned to start that car to drive her veterinarian father from farm to farm. And before training to be a nurse, she held the twist on the horse’s nose for many a farmer who was too soft-hearted to do it while her father did whatever she was distracting the horse from. So the notes I made that day are tucked into a folder in a filing cabinet down in the basement with other personal memories, not taking up much space, not hurting anybody.

What’s my hurry?

The little niggling voice in the back of my head says to me, you never know. You’re getting old. What if it happens all of a sudden, not gradually? What if today you’re fine and tomorrow you’re not, and someone needs to do everything for you? Are you ready for that?

No, I’m not. So I make another attempt at neatening my life. Put a list of my accounts and such into the computer, with automatic payments and all that, for whoever might have to follow up after me. But I remember how one man’s family couldn’t get past his password to find his life insurance, much less any other financial records. Better remind the younger members of the family where to look.

We’re told our advance directives belong in a clear plastic envelope in the freezer, because it’s the most fireproof spot in the house, and because emergency personnel are trained to look there, at least in our town. So, even though we did the legal stuff years ago, we have several of those plastic envelopes with forms to fill out, waiting for us all (young people too) to get around to doing it. They say Thanksgiving is a good time to talk through those decisions together, when all the family are gathered around the table. I suppose so, but it wasn’t my idea of how to spend that meal.

All those murder victims in mysteries–how many of them are ready? And who looks in the freezer?

10 Responses

  1. Having been on the “receiving” end of one of these situations, I can agree with everything you’ve said. Realizing though, that it’s possible, if somewhat troublesome, to muddle through anyway, I’ve decided I’ve still got enough time to continue living in my usual state of chaos. Even if I straightened everything now, it wouldn’t take long for the clutter to reappear. And what if I DID need some of those unfinished projects…

  2. I figure they can just pull up a Dumpster and toss indiscriminately. I’m glad you didn’t succumb at the Thanksgiving meal!

  3. I’m not ready either, Sara, but trying to get there. I really like the optimism of the Frommer son who said at least going through old papers at this point in time means they get recycled. I have a friend who specializes in the philosophy of “at least” and that’s a good thing.
    Dorothy

  4. thanks for sharing…as an aging single woman…this is something to keep in mind…last thing I would want to do is to be a burden…as i am a bit of a pack rat as well…enjoyed your blog…rebecca

  5. Well said. (I think I’ll tackle a twenty-year-old pile of notes myself! …As soon as I get time.) Laura Lynn Leffers

  6. I’m with you, Sara. I just moved from a large house to a condo and forced myself to dump bags and boxes of old letters, memorabilia, manuscripts while my daughters cried, “But your heirs will want to see your handwriting–don’t throw it out!” Too late, “It’s already gone,” I said. My man and I hired a dumpster the size of a truck! Whee…
    Oh, and I keep current manuscripts in the freezer, not my advance directives. My kids will have to hunt for those. Maybe in the sock drawer?

    • Whee, indeed!

      Come to think of it, what’s been in our freezer recently was a sweater my husband wanted to be sure didn’t have live bedbugs on it, but didn’t want to put in a hot dryer.

      Long story . . .

      Sara

  7. This is something we all have to ponder. It doesn’t make it any easier or more comfortable as time goes on,

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