Monday, June 27, 2011

Decluttering, Metal Chickens, and (a few) Tears

"It is such a secret place, the land of tears."

The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I really had an awesome weekend.  On Friday, I drove the younger boys out to my parents' house for a much needed rest. 

It had been an absolutely grueling week after Justin's father had his heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery.  I've never seen my husband so completely exhausted and overwhelmed before, even when his dad lost a kidney to cancer six years ago.  When my FIL arrived at the emergency room on Sunday night last week, the doctors gave him a 20% chance of survival.  His lungs were filled with fluid, his one remaining kidney was not working, and he had had a massive heart attack.  They did catheterization and discovered four entirely blocked arteries.  He needed a quadruple bypass surgery and if he didn't get it, he was going to die.  But first, his body would have to tolerate almost 24 hours of dialysis, which might kill him.

We are incredibly grateful that he pulled through the surgery and his first words upon waking up were, "Get me out of here."  He was pissed off.  Good.  Pissed off people fight harder.

All of these horrible things that have happened in the last few months really make you slow down and appreciate what's important.  Like metal chickens.

On Friday, upon arriving at my parents' house, I saw this:

Oh my God.  My mother had metal chickens.  If you haven't read my post about the 5' metal chicken over at Jenny Lawson's Website, please go look for the one that's entitled something to the effect of why you should pick your battles.  Apparently it went viral and shut down her server.  Now, I am all about metal chickens.  And my mom had two.  I wasn't leaving without them.

I spent a good bit of time in one of the spare rooms, going through old portraits, removing them from frames and putting the old frames in boxes to take to Goodwill.  We ended up with several piles and the boys walked things to the separate donation areas that had been set up in the dining room.  This was my favorite:

As you can see, the label reads, "Ask Papa."  This was my dad's pile of stuff that Mom needed a "yes" or a "no" to keeping and it kept growing larger and larger as the weekend went on.  My dad has a lot of work to do before their move in August.

I had told Jamie on the way out that since his primary reason for living this summer seems to be to argue with me, he needed to argue about absolutely everything I wanted to bring home except for black picture frames, in conjunction with my desire to decrapify my house.  If I couldn't justify it, it wasn't coming home.  But metal chickens were an exception - they were coming home no matter what he said and no matter how much he argued that the metal chicken blog wasn't funny.  I know a few thousand people who thought it was.

My pile ended up looking like this:

Sorry it's blurry.  Camera phone.  But essentially, it was a box of picture frames, along with a few treasured photographs I wanted.  I whittled it down further before loading it into my car.  That large collage in the back didn't make the cut.
I also found my younger brother's freshman yearbook and, after everyone else went to bed and Jamie was streaming episodes of South Park on his laptop so as not to wake my parents up, I spent some time just looking through it.  He was a freshman two years after I graduated, but not much had changed in the two years between my being a senior and his being a freshman.  There were still no computers, smart phones, iPads, internet, video games, or anything else that kids think they can't live without.  I even saw a picture of someone talking on a pay phone.  
God, how old am I?
The weekend was entirely peaceful and I got to spend some quality time with both of my parents, my mother in particular.  I have come to terms (mostly) with their moving 600 miles away, but it still hit me pretty hard on Saturday after a fairly grueling trip into a town that was filled to the brim with weekend tourists, my mother slamming on a fake brake in my passenger seat as she yelled at me to watch out for the idiots and feared for her life, and a 30 minute wait in a huge crowd at the tiny McDonald's to get our lunch.  Fibro roared back with a vengeance and I caved into my own secret land of tears when I lay down to take a brief nap.  I sobbed pretty good for about 20 minutes as everything that has happened this year hit me at once and the fact that soon my parents will be multiple states away became crystal clear in the empty spots on the walls where pictures had hung.
There must be something to the sentiment that as long as you are alive, you never really get over needing your parents.  I will be 47 next month and I still find myself thinking that I need them.  Here.  Physically.  I need to get over that.  I am an adult, but every time I hear Taylor Swift's song Wish I Never Grew Up, it puts me back into the secret land of tears, wistful for the days when life was simple, I wasn't responsible for other little lives (rather than someone tucking me into bed at night), and there was always a room that belonged to me.  Maybe women are more susceptible to this feeling than men, but I still need my parents with a vengeance and I really, truly realized this weekend that they are moving.  I guess there's a lot to be said for denial as a defense mechanism.

My dad spent a good bit of Saturday and Sunday with my boys, taking them to the lake to swim and taking them to the shooting range and out to lunch on Sunday.  Joey and I spent quite a bit of time in the hot tub, just watching the deer wandering at the bottom of the long hill that is my parents' back yard and I truly relaxed for the first time in months.  I realize that life could be worse in so many ways.  My mother got cancer, but she didn't die and they don't think the cancer will be what kills her.  I still have both of my parents and so does Justin.  We are so grateful that they were able to save my mom and that his dad survived both dialysis and the surgery.

And really, with the internet, Mom keeps saying we can talk every day.  But you know what?  We don't actually talk every day now and sometimes weeks go by when I don't see my parents.  The 600 miles is indeed a great distance and I will be very sorry and probably very tearful on moving day, but I realize that this is not the end of the world that I thought it was a year ago.  They are going somewhere they love and that will make them happy and isn't that what life is all about?

You should do what makes you happy and live where you are happy.  Life really boils down to those two simple rules, doesn't it? 

And the metal chickens are a bonus.  Not only do I get to move them around and pose them obscenely, as suggested by my mother, I got to scare the dog:

How often can you say your metal chickens made your dog nervous?




  1. Decrapify. Love it! The chickens are great, even if I didn't read the other post. I have a rooster in my kitchen that will always be there, even when I've successfully decrapified my own house! Visiting from 365 Less Things... thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Welcome, Lynn! I hope you will poke around and check out my other posts on decluttering. I'm really getting into getting stuff out of my house.

    If you get a chance, check out the post at called That's Why You Should Pick Your Battles. Make sure you have some depends on hand because you'll be laughing so hard, I swear you will need them!



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