This week, I have been clearing out my Dad’s house. He died six weeks ago and I’d put it off for while, but it was time. Time to go through every wardrobe and drawer and cupboard. Time to assess what to keep and what to discard. Thirty three years he’d been in that house. Thirty three years! And he had accumulated thirty three years worth of bits and pieces – with memories attached to every bit and piece. There was a filing cabinet drawer filled with every sermon he had ever written and delivered. His army cap and whistle from when he was a young man. Elastic bands everywhere – so many elastic bands! Books written in by my Mum to celebrate five years together or a birthday. Books from his parents’ era – dated 1865. Books and books and books. He had a thing for books. And he would have been delighted that the pastor from his church came along and took away a car boot full of commentaries and books for his own use. He’ll be buying a new bookcase to house them all in!
My husband had said I could bring back anything I could fit in the boot of the car. Seemed reasonable. So how did I choose? I let my heart speak out. When I thought ‘I’d like that. I don’t know why but I’d like that’, I added it to the pile in the hall. Some things were useful and practical – a vegetable steamer, paper shredder, a floor lamp. Some things were pretty – a set of crystal glasses, a vintage sandwich plate. Some things just could not be thrown away – old photos, letters, the really personal things. As for the rest? Items of no particular value but that would somehow bring the presence of my Dad into my home, so that I would see it and be reminded of him on a daily basis – a nest of tables for the living room, a gold wicker chair for my studio, a gateleg table that I have no idea where to put, a few (faux) sheepskin rugs that my dogs are going to love.
I was on a mission. The house was cleared. Everything I’d chosen to bring home fitted into the car. Now I have the job of finding homes for it all. So today there will be another trip to the tip. This time with items from my own house that I am going to replace with items from my Dad’s. I’m excited to unpack it all. Excited to assimilate it all into my everyday world. Yes, it’s sad that so much had to go. But it’s lovely to have and cherish these pieces – not ‘vintage’ in any formal sense of the word, but vintage because they belonged to my Dad and for that reason, they’re priceless.