So my dear parents are having to move out of the house they have lived in for 30 years and downsize. One is due to financial reasons the other is the house is too big for them to maintain, especially thinking forward for my Dad, they need something more manageable. However my parents, as much as we love them, are hoarders!
They live currently in a semi-detached house with a double garage and loft. They are moving to an end of terrace house with a loft and no garage. So as you can imagine, the time has come to clear, sort, and pack the house up.
We had already done the garage over the last couple of weeks, so today was “Loft day”
The garage was full of bits and pieces that pre-dated me, to the point my Mum and Dad had forgotten we had half of the things in there.
However the loft well that was certainly a trip down memory lane and beyond.
For instance, my Mother had kept my baby bath! I’m 32 now with a whole bathroom and an adult size bath. I’m not sure what I’d do with a 32 year old baby bath now.
However as much as I despair with my parents for having kept these “treasures”, I knew they were important to them.
My sister, husband and I pulled out things that had long been forgotten, or at least that we thought had gone a long time ago. However there were some things in there that we loved seeing again.
One of my favourite pieces I found was my old wicker doll’s pram, that I had when I was little. Yet again the question of “Why have you kept this, mother?” was asked. I even pointed out to Mum that since that dolls pram went into the loft, I had been given and used another buggy, and I’d even had a life-sized pram with a real baby in it, and that my real baby now has her own doll’s buggy too.
The loft also uncovered the old diaries my Mum used to keep in the years when she’d just met our Dad and their story and life before having me and my sister.
These are lovely to have because we get to recapture and hear what their life was like, especially for my Dad who may have a few cobwebs on those memories.
My favourite memories to read were the day my Mum met my Dad, the day they found out that they were expecting me (they’d previously been told that they couldn’t have children) and the few days before and after I was born.
These first hand memories are ones you can’t replicate, so to be able read them like I was there at the time is something I will always cherish.
We found old cards, receipts from their wedding day, old vinyl records and even things they’d inherited from my grandparents.
We found our old school exercise books and nursery drawings that were forgotten, but were coming out for an airing.
There were bags of old clothes that my parents wore and hidden amongst them was even my Mum’s wedding dress, so of course I had to try it on. I think when you find your Mum’s wedding dress then as a daughter you must try it on, whatever age you are.
Although time and life had moved on, it was nice to recapture memories and actually see my parents relive memories again. From my Mum’s expression at seeing her wedding dress again, or my Dad’s leafing through his old LPs back from his days as a mobile DJ, it reminded me that they were once like me.
It just seems so sad now that my Dad’s illness is robbing him of that carefree “do what you will” attitude of taking risks. It’s something he would never have expected or planned.
I see the sadness in my parent’s eyes as they watch the clearing out happening. It’s something which some parents never have to witness as they’re are usually not around.
I know this change is big for them. The memories that are being reignited with seeing what is coming out of the darkest corners of the loft are looked at with nostalgia and with a tinge of sadness.
However it’s having a support network around them that will help them. Of course, we won’t throw everything away, but we have created a box with the items that have special memories attached, the old diaries and so on. These are the things that my sister and I will go through on our own one day, and relive our childhoods, our parents’ lives before us, and so much more.
Mental health can be affected when we’re doing things we really don’t want to do. What’s important is having a support network, people to talk to and seeing things in a different way.
This is what helps us accept and move on.