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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cleaning out the closets

When I mourned after my mother, z'l, may her memory be blessed, my focus which mainly my internal emotions, trying to keep myself emotionally stable, and, of course, trying to take care of my father's needs as much as possible. This year of mourning has been much different. Much of this year's mourning has been consumed by the tasks involved in carrying out my father's wishes as expressed to me verbally as well as legally as trustee of his trust. And, even more, dealing with the many things in his home, located next door to my apartment in the Bronx. I pass his apartment on the way to my own place, a daily reminder that he used to live there, that I used to go to visit and talk with him most every day and that, now, it is empty. Empty, that is, of human presence. It is not empty of the objects, constant reminders of my parents' life together as well as the life he created for himself during the seven-plus years he lived afterward without her. They are not just random objects; rather, nearly every item has some association, some memory that gets conjured up. Artwork, dishes, books, CDs, photographs, suitcases, furniture, rugs. My mother's paperweight collection. His Native American basket collection. Various heirlooms passed down from his and my mother's generation.

And clothes. Last weekend I set upon the task of cleaning out his closets and disposing of his clothing. We made four piles, items I myself wanted. That was the smallest pile. Mostly things that didn't really fit me but that I wanted to keep for sentimental reasons. Next, items that my son wanted. Also a relatively small pile. A few sweaters. A shirt. Lots of socks. Then a pile of the things we thought we could sell at a used clothing store (Buffalo Exchange). Jackets, suits, shirts, pants. Finally the last, by far the largest pile, stuff to give away at an upcoming clothing drive. My father was very stylish, but his style is not in fashion these days, unlikely to be wanted by a used clothes buyer. Other items were not in good enough shape to sell.

And so we set out with two suitcases worth to the clothing store. We waited and waited for our turn, waiting an hour and a half for the buyer. We stacked the clothes on the counter. The women serving us made two piles and just about every item we pulled out went into a pile of things they didn't want. In the end, they took only a few shirts and a couple of pairs of shorts. All of which added up to $47. The tolls for the bridges to get there and back cost about $6. We used half of what remained to get lunch. About $20 left for our troubles. Even more bags to fill for the clothing drive.

It's time to move on people tell me. It's time to sell or sublet the apartment. But it is not easy. Even saying kaddish is easier than "disposing" of the objects, clothing included, that made up and remind me of the life of my father, z'l.