Theresa, Laura, Bryan and I spent the day going through our overly stuffed storage unit with our friend Missy and Bryan’s cousin Rick. Due to a maintenance upgrade of our storage facility we were required to clear out the unit up to 8′ in from the door. Well that naturally meant we would have to clear a vast majority of the unit out for the maintenance crew (they are installing new roll-up doors). So, after 4.5 years, we decided it was time to finally sort through all the boxes of “stuff™” that we threw into storage after we packed up Dad’s apartment when he died.
This is good. It’s something we’ve needed to do for a very long time, but somehow just never felt up for the emotional and physical challenges of actually doing it. Now we had a legitimate kick in the ass to step up and move and throw stuff away.
We all agreed on heading down the storage at 9 am. We knew that the task would take all day. Afterall, Dad’s boxes alone were stacked front of the garage to the back of the garage – floor to ceiling and about 2/3 of the unit sidewall to sidewall. It was a lot of stuff. The unit also had a bunch of Dawson Digital gear, my storage, Mom’s storage and some of Theresa and Bryan’s storage. Oh! There were a few items of Alyssa’s and even Missy’s umbrella in there too.
I was worried the day was off on the wrong foot when we didn’t even leave the apartment in Vista until well after 9:15. And we still had to drop Sean off with Adam at Laura’s house and pick her up! We eventually go to the storage unit just before 10 am. Nearly an entire hour later than Theresa and I had hoped to start. “Not good,” I thought to myself.
As the door opened and Theresa, Laura, Missy and I (Bryan was a little behind us because he had to get Mom breakfast) stood there looking at the incredibly daunting mountain of cardboard boxes, baby furniture, computer junk and more… I felt myself starting to be overwhelmed. Panic was starting to push in.
But one deep breath and a “here we go” and the four of us just started pulling crap out of the garage and immediately started sorting into piles in the parking lot of “Stuff to keep,” “Stuff to Donate,” “Trash” and stuff to “Really sort through.”
We worked straight through to 4 pm. A full six hours in which we only ALL stopped once. For 15 minutes we all stopped to have lunch. That was the one and only work stoppage of the entire 6 hour day in that garage.
It wasn’t easy but we managed to go through it all. Turns out, half of the stuff we had called “Dad’s Stuff™” over the past 4.5 years was actually stuff from Grandma’s that he never sorted through before he died. So the day became a crazy trip down multiple generations of Dawsons and Hedricks family memories.
To our credit, we kept it together all day and stayed on task. We did find some incredible items that I am glad to have salvaged out of the mess. We actually have the love letters my parents sent to each other while Dad was serving in the Navy and courting Mom in the Philippines before they were married. Amazing.
We also have a journal my Dad wrote about his life during my senior year of high school. Having just thumbed through it a bit today it is a fascinating insight into my Father’s life at a pivotal moment in his life and mine. That was the year that his life took a series of dramatic and important changes. I’m actually very excited to read this journal of his and hopefully learn a little more about the man and how he handled himself through that time of his life. It’s amazing, his writing is so clear and his voice is so apparent in the words. I found myself actually able to envision him sitting at his desk at the house on Country Grove Lane typing his entries in on his x486 computer. Amazing. Talking with Theresa, the way he printed out those journals and put them into a three ring binder… (fairly recently, likely just shortly before he died)… we can’t help but wonder that he maybe hoped we’d find it and read it someday.
We of course found all sorts of photos from our childhood, and from Dad’s. Every photo we found has been saved and put into moisture resistant containers. I plan on scanning the entire library of photos into the computer and adding them to our SmugMug site for anyone to order prints of anything they’d like to have. I’ll work on that throughout this year.
It took all day to get through this stuff. But we did it. Rick joined us about half way through the day and provided a fresh back for hauling the “keepers” to the new unit we moved into at the storage facility. My warmest thanks to him and to Missy who worked her ass off with us today. Without their efforts and their love and support today would have been A LOT harder and I don’t think we’d have been able to complete it all by dark.
For the record, we completely filled up what was a totally empty large trash container, overflowed into 4 large rolling recyle bins, and even had about a half dozen boxes and bags of materials for donation. We went through a tremendous amount of “stuff™” today.
And it was hard. And it was not great having to do it. But we revisited old memories, mostly fun and mostly happy, and in the end I think it was therapeutic. I mean really… Theresa found Laura’s mummified Barbie Doll that she wrapped up in paper mache. How could you possibly feel bad about that? I could almost hear Barbie saying, “It’s from the Egyptian Fall ‘0012 collection.” Hahaha.
I miss my Dad, my Grandparents and so many more. You all continue to be in my thoughts everyday and I hope that when when it is my time you will be there waiting for me with open arms.