Saturday, May 23, 2009

Going through a stranger's things

This is a sad posting. In the last few weeks we had a tenant that died. The police found her and said she had died of natural causes. It just doesn't seem right to call the death of someone in their 50's natural causes.

Her family did not clean out her apartment as well as we would have had it been one of our family. We were saddled with the responsibility of going through the remaining items of hers that they chose not to take or that the person that paid them for what he wanted did not take.

There were tubs and tubs of blankets, sheets and clothes. Being frugal people we were not going to just throw these away, however, to donate them, we knew that some items may not be donatable. I went through all the clothes and did remove all stained or damaged clothing or bedding. The apartment was on the second floor and we had to move a couch and several other items of furniture to ground level. We put a free sign on them out front. We knew the stuff was not great but wanted to avoid dump fees. It took a couple of days, but everything went! We were pleased at that.

Today we were removing probably fifty nails and screws in the walls and scraping and filling the holes. I don't know what she had hanging there, but it sure was a lot. One heartache was that she also put nails and screws in the pine wood paneling. I wish tenants would think about what they are doing to the apartment when they do things like that.

It is kind of hard being there knowing that someone recently died there. I was thankful that I was there when most of the furniture was gone. I am glad I don't know the details of where they found her in the apartment. My mind would wander too much.

As I went through her clothing, I saw a woman, who we knew, loved cats and dogs but above all cats. Although we heard that her life was sad and troubled recently, there were shirts of either trips she went on or someone who loved her, had given her. They were evidence of happier times.

I also noted something that many are probably guilty of...her nicest and prettiest or cutest shirts were stained or just not hand-me-down worthy any more. I feel pretty sure that these were favorites that although stained or whatever, that she did not want to part with them. You could tell. Well, we all have things that make us happy or comfort us. Once we are gone, what is left stays and what was a comfort to us either becomes a comfort to someone else or a burden. For a stranger, going through a stranger's personal belongings, it was certainly not a comfort. Yes, it was a burden, but my satisfaction came from the thought that we will be able to donate these and that someone somewhere will perhaps get some good use out of these things--some via a thrift shop, some of the bedding will go towards animal rehab. I would feel good when I am gone if my family were able to find good homes for my earthly belongings. I know it is my duty now to reduce the number of my earthly "treasures". I will be having a tag sale this summer to try and recoup some money in these tight times. My only hope is that I won't have a stranger deciding the fate of my things when I am gone. I am sorry for the families who have to do this. It is a burden, but it is the one last burden of love that you do for someone.

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