It has been a comfort and delight for me over the period of my husband's funeral, to have my sons around, including No 1, who came over from Australia. Because he is currently the strongest in a family of back sufferers, we had to take advantage of his being here to begin the business of clearing out the clutter which my husband, a committed handyman, had accumulated over the years.
No bit of wood, no mechanical device, no broken object that might be repaired, was ever discarded. The homes of his family and friends will bear witness to his skill and ingenuity in the DIY field for a long time to come, but more remained unused than had ever been recommissioned, and clearance had to be made before a valuer could be brought in. He lived alone in a 4-bed, 3-recep, and only used two rooms, so there was a lot of junk-filled space, evidence of which can be seen in the picture above of the first skipful.
In some ways it was tough to start clearing out his home straight away, but having something demanding to do the day after the funeral has its advantages too. We arrived at the house with a clear plan for working on the rooms, but suddenly I found myself alone with nothing going on. I discovered the three boys out the back, where they were breaking themselves in for the more emotional task by starting in the garage. They were dragging stuff out, karate-kicking it to pieces, then hurling it into the skip. As you can see, they ended up with an exceptionally clear space which might actually have housed a car if necessary! After that they could face the indoors.
This process of sorting and disposal can be quite amusing to watch, as the dominant urge to 'get rid' in one person conflicts with the inherited urge to 'save because it could be useful' in another. What is more, after their first run to the local dump (skip not big enough!) they had come back with two trophies! An antique suitcase (which No 4 collects out of interest, and because he uses suitcases in his street theatre shows); and a three-foot long builder's spirit level made by John Rabone & Son, a now non-existent firm with which our family has close connections. I have made a considerable collection of Rabone rules and spirit levels over the years, so this was a great find.
As with most things, there has been a bright side to all the hard work involved in planning and clearing, in as much as members of the family have had some 'together time', working, playing and remembering, which is all too rare these days. We ended that first day with an early dinner in a new restaurant which was first class - indeed, in our filthy house-clearing clothes we were scarcely good enough for it! My daughter-in-law and the two grandchildren joined us, in a private room, and the evening concluded with some vigorous bargaining over who was fit to drive home, and whose car(s) could be left in town overnight. I know I was taken home, and that was all I was worried about by then!