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Closet Cleaning 101Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007, at 8:06 PM
This weekend my darling daughter undertook the massive job of persuading me to part with almost 50 years of clutter, which I have been lovingly accumulating ever since my husband and I were married in 1963. I don't THINK any of the clutter is any older than that, however, I could have some treasures which I have been hoarding since high school. ...Maybe longer...
"Hoarding" is exactly the word which Oprah used in her program last week, when she and her Organizational Police did an intervention for a poor woman whose house had become a prison of junk, which was pushing her out of her own home. Her 3-car garage was packed with floor to ceiling clutter.
What were they thinking??
Ah, that's the sad part. I KNOW what they were thinking, because I do the same thing! I sat there and watched Oprah as long as I could, thinking, "Oh, no! That's ME! That's where I'm headed!" I just knew that one day I would be crushed to death by a towering wall of old clothes, books, broken air filter machines, and lamps that don't work.
I once read a newspaper report about two brothers who had been found dead in their apartment, beneath a pile of junk that had toppled over. ARGGG!!!
My daughter, who had TAPED the entire two-day episode of the Oprah intervention, outlined the plan: Get rid of two bags a day - one to the trash and one to the Good Will. Eliminate everything that you don't like, can't use, don't want. If it doesn't fit, get rid of it.
We started on my husband's old closet, which I was using as an overflow for my stuff. I had been getting rid of his things a bit at a time in the ten years since he died. However, I was appalled at what I had saved: 1) A double-knit western suit from the early 70's. 2) About six Medieval/Renaissance outfits from when I taught school. 3) Several out-of-date sports jackets. 4) An assortment of ties, some wide and bright, some narrow and dark. 5) An odd assortment of narrow leather belts, belonging (I think) to me, at different weights. 6) A black, string dress (my favorite) that I wore the night my husband and I won a twist competition at the Purple Crackle. (I think that was around 1962-1963.)
I managed to save the black string dress by hiding it back in a corner.
In my own closet, we found a blue denim dress that I hadn't worn in about ten years or more, but it still looked stylish to me and I was sure I could wear it again, if I lost about five pounds. My daughter says that if I can't wear it in six months, it goes to Good Will! Now that I think about it, it may take ten pounds to get in it...(So, do I get a year??)
The upshot of it all is that we filled about six bags full of Good Will stuff, which my darling daughter then packed into my Jeep, the theory being that I would procrastinate if she left them in the house!
I don't know where she gets that idea, just because one of the bags has been sitting in my bedroom for about a year...
The Gospel Mission in Advance doesn't open until Thursday (tomorrow), and I've been carrying those bags around since Sunday. I can't bring home dogfood or goatfood or anything, because my car is full of old clothes!
It's so easy for these children of the 21st Century! They didn't grow up with parents who lived through the Great Depression, saving string, saving tin foil, washing plastic bags and reusing them, canning vegetables from the garden, mending clothes, darning socks...
My sweet little Grandma Giles, my daddy's mother, mended our clothes by sewing patches into split seams, never bothering to match the material. As a teenager, I remember being horrified at her little patterned patches, showing up under my arms! "Mom! Look what Gramma did! I can't wear this!"
Never mind, get the seam ripper and take out her careful little handmade stitches, sew it up on the sewing machine. Keep the peace...
Bless her heart, I'd give anything to have one of those mended blouses now. Fold it into the cedar chest and show it to the kids. "This is how your great grandmother mended clothes, children."
Aldous Huxley..."Brave New World.." "Ending is better than mending, ending is better than mending..." Are we there yet? I think we may be...
Why is it so hard to give up the old things? If I haven't used it or worn it in ten years, why keep it? My chests of drawers are full of things I don't use, and there's no room for the new things coming in.
About a year ago, I made a vow that I would never buy any more new clothes...I would continue to recycle the ones from the past. Since that vow, things have changed a bit in my life, and I'm of a different mind now, so I guess it's time to move on.
Let the old, worn-out things go...
Except for the black string dress. You never know when there'll be another twist contest...
From the dark hills of rural Tillman, this is your aging twister, Madeline, signing off for November 28, 2007.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.