It's significant that I haven't shared these pictures or the story of Thanksgiving '09 until now, a year later. It was the first holiday season without any of my grandparents, just about six weeks after we lost GweGwe, 3 months after we lost MeeMaw, and a little over a year since we had lost PeePaw. And we as a family had decided to spend our Thanksgiving holidays - a week for some of us, just a day or two for others - doing the physically and emotionally exhausting work of cleaning out their houses.
Bret and I dropped our boys off to spend the week with Gammie and Poppy. We then joined Mom and Dad at GweGwe's house. We spent the next couple of days doing some initial cleaning. GweGwe was still in fairly good health, didn't hang on to an excess of things, and kept her house very well. There wasn't an overwhelming amount of things to go through, just emptying cabinets and closets, making plans for larger items to be either given to family members or sold, etc. It was an exhausting, interesting and intimate few days; we came across several sentimental items that had either been long forgotten or unknown altogether.
But eventually Sunday afternoon did roll around. Mom and Dad had to go back home, and Bret and I made our way to MeeMaw and PeePaw's house to join my Aunt Stephy and Uncle Bubba. They had already begun some initial cleaning of MeeMaw's house as much as a year before when
MeeMaw had moved into Mom and Dad's house - but her house was much larger and much, much, much fuller of stuff. And it was on many acres, including a large garage and lots of farm equipment.
It ended up working out pretty well. They had gotten it to the point that it was time for a detailed plan to be made. The men went out to work on the land and farm equipment, and Aunt Stephy and I set to work in the house. We decided to just take it one room at a time, and set ourselves a goal to finish two of the bedrooms that day.
The house had been vacant for over year, and being an older house already, out in the country, and taking into account that as MeeMaw and Peepaw's health had declined parts of the house had been virtually unused for years...let's just say that we were very thankful that the DeCon had been put out a few months before...and that there was plenty of evidence that it had worked.
And the thing about hanging on to stuff for years and years and years is that eventually, many of the things are not really useful to anyone anymore. And at some point, even though many of the things may hold some sentimental value, simply passing down the story is enough because no one is able to take it all into their own home for their children to go through years later. And at some point, even when some of the things might be worth a little bit on eBay, at a garage sale, or something similar...the task of transporting all of the stuff to the right place and hanging on to it until it sells and then getting it all shipped to the new owners becomes something larger than anyone can or wants to take on. At some point, you're just ready to be done. It was very sad, heart-wrenching really, but we rented a 30-yard dumpster. And the bulk of our cleaning involved carting things from the house and out into the dumpster.
And so the four of us worked for a day. The next day Jodi joined us and we continued to clean and remember and tell stories and throw things away. At the end of the second day, Bret and I went back to his family's house to celebrate Thanksgiving with them. And the rest of my family made their way to MeeMaw's during that time. Since the kitchen had already been emptied, including some essential appliances, when they took their lunch break on Thanksgiving Day they went to Denny's.
Then on Friday we joined them again, and the whole family - all 18 of us - spent yet another day cleaning and remembering and telling stories and throwing things away. And we filled it up the dumpster. And it was hauled off. And we filled up another one. And another one. And yet another smaller one. And all of our vehicles were bursting at the seams with various treasures that we had fallen in love with. But by the end of the week we had made tremendous progress. Pretty much all that remained in the house was boxes of items that already had specific destinations, and the nicer furniture.
And we said our goodbyes to one another until the next time, and forever to the place that had been "MeeMaw and Peepaw's" for my entire life - and "Mom's and Dad's" for even longer.
I didn't take any pictures at GweGwe's - I'm not real sure why. But here's some of the pictures from our week at MeeMaw's:
The guys folks cleaning out the garage found it to be both preferable and necessary to wear masks.We fed the cows, and we played a little, too:We made the amazing discovery of a box full of Ira's entire collection of He-Man toys, along with a few other sentimental toys from our childhood. We were all very excitedincluding the next generation!The Wellsbrothers and their cousin Christian (my cousin's son), had a ball hanging out.They coloredand played follow the leaderand threw rocks in the mud puddle (that's been there about as long as I can remember)and climbed the wonderful old pecan tree in the front yardand when we were really needing them to be out of the way in a safe place, we let them play in the cattle trailer. :)And then we filled the cattle trailer up with furniture to be delivered to new homes...
Like I said, it was definitely a Thanksgiving to remember - as well as one to remember in a different way so many things for which we are thankful.