It could not be put off any longer. The house was empty. The only thing left was cleaning out the garage. Not a big job I kept telling myself. After all, you could still park two cars inside and most everything else was on shelves.
I was clearly fooling myself. The more I took off the shelves the more the pile of stuff grew. It was sort of like eating liver. The more you chew, the bigger it gets.
Pretty soon I had everything sorted out. It looked somewhat like a small hardware store. The list was impressive and somewhat embarrassing.
In the past 37 years, I had managed to accumulate eight hammers, two crowbars, and three nail pullers. I had eight crescent wrenches of various sizes. I sorted out all of the wrenches by size and found I had two complete sets, plus a set of metric wrenches, and still had several dozen assorted wrenches left over.
There were multiple socket sets, some never opened. I had four or five tool boxes, some of which hid yet more tools. One or two were old enough that the plastic had become brittle. They had not been opened in years.
There was a big plastic box full of sheet music, probably stored there for twenty years. Enough citronella oil to light a hundred tiki torches. Enough nails and screws to build a house. The list kept growing.
I had three bolt cutters. My guess is I bought a pair of bolt cutters every time I needed one since I do not remember ever cutting anything more than a lock on a storage building. The last pair was so big I cannot imagine what I had to cut.
There were occasional unopened boxes with what was likely a long forgotten Christmas gift. These included things like a small portable gas stove with three canisters of fuel. Never used.
Tapes of all kind, including masking, duct, and scotch. Some old enough to be too brittle to use. I did discover that duct tape apparently lasts forever.
Does anyone ever use the old paint that is stored? I do not even remember some of the colors that were in the cans. Apparently they were used several remodels ago.
That just left the gadgets that were accumulated over nearly four decades and some very random items, like eight track tapes once owned by my grandparents. I probably am the only person alive with a collection of the Gay Nineties, Lawrence Welk, Dean Martin and Glenn Miller.
It is tough downsizing, but I am so glad that my children are not having to go through this process after Mary Lou and I are gone. They would not have known the people in many of the old photos stored in the boxes. In fact, we could not remember who some of them were either.
Would the kids have kept the quarter jar full of pennies packed in axle grease that my Dad received as payment for a football bet? Not sure where I am going to put that yet.
Two more boxes to the dumpster and we will be done. My wife says I am a hoarder. I prefer to think of myself as a collector. A collector of treasure and junk.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org