When I'm dead and gone.

When I’m dead and gone, I don’t want my children having to sort through a bunch of unnecessary junk. They will be grieving (or they'd better be) and it would throw a hitch into that grieving session, a hitch that is pointless. Recently, this mindset led me to clean out my attic.

But as usual, I need to flashback because nothing is ever simple in my life. 

In the mid-1990s, I decided to clean out the attic. With my adult son in tow, I crawled out through the hole in the closet and into the attic, around the corner, and over a drop off until we were heading in the direction of the "stuff". During the remodel of 1988, I had light fixtures installed (my idea) in the attic and the bulbs were still working then. This ended up being a bad thing.

My son crawled behind me. We were both on hands and knees. Then I heard him say, “Wow, I’d hate to see the spider that lives in that web.”

Of course, if you know me at all you know I fear spiders (see what I wrote here about it in 2009). I froze in mid crawl to see the well-lit back wall and a web stretching across about three feet of the wall. (If the bulbs had burnt out, this would not be a story.) I realized later they were probably old webs because they were covered in dust, you know cobwebs. I turned around and said, “Go back, go back. Go back!” I sang this and shoved him until he was back inside the closet, and I was out of the attic.

You might have guessed that I have not returned to the attic since, until recently.

The treasures I found ranged from awesome and endearing to really why did I keep that?  I threw things out because the years had caused disintegration. The things I kept for myself, I will use as The Ruralhood fodder in the future. My son doesn't know it yet, but he has a large box of Star Wars and HeMan toys. My daughter has a child's table and chairs and a kitchen set. We also found another box of the Haviland China that I'd given her earlier. And I found my old manual typewriter. I'm excited about that.

One last thing I wanted to mention are the emotions I experience:
  1. Relief that the attic junk monster is no longer hanging over my head.
  2. Relief that the attic looks good, you know clean and sound for an attic.
  3. Sad because even though there was a lot of stuff, it symbolized my whole life and should have been more.
  4. Sad because that season of my life is gone forever.
  5. Embarrassed that I thought every little tickle and stab on my skin was a spider and said so in shrill unflattering tones.
  6. Embarrassed that I struggled with how to get back inside the closet from the attic and finally threw myself through the door and crawled out on all fours like a baby. This did make people laugh—at my expense.  
  7. Anxious that one of us would fall through the ceiling again.
  8.  Irritated because now my son’s old room is a mess again and it wasn’t his fault, so I have to clean it.

It turned out to be an emotional day for me, but it's done.  (I apologize for the formatting again.)



  1. Well done.
    An important job, a difficult job and a sometimes scary job.
    Give yourself a big pat on the back.

  2. It's got to be such a good feeling to give things away now when you can see your kids enjoy them...like the china. :)

    Glad the spiders didn't attack you!

  3. Don't feel bad about your reaction to the web....I'd've done the same thing! lol And screamed like a girl too. Your blog post title put 'And when I die' in my head (by Blood Sweat & Tears). I do try to do a purge every now and then, but honestly after my divorce, I left half my stuff with the ex so I feel as though I've purged enough.

  4. Relief when a job is done is always nice. Should have had Millie got in and make sure no spiders were there for sure. Bet she'd have eaten any.

  5. Congratulations. I am still working on the last two generations.

  6. Congrats! Getting the junk monster under control is always tough!! We tackled a lot of it over the summer, but there's still a lot more to go!

  7. You and I are frequently on the same wave length it seems. Since we bought our house new in 1997 we didn't put a bunch of stuff up in our attic. A few years ago I thought I'd stored some stuff up there, but when I poked my head up into the attic I saw there was nothing there in storage. Maybe I'd dreamed it or was confused with my mother's house--sometimes memories get confused these days.

    Someday I've got to finish sifting through all the stuff in my garage and closets. I've started tackling the job on occasion and though I might have gotten rid of a few things, I typically get bogged down in looking at stuff and drifting in memories.

    You might have a gold mine in those Star Wars and He Man toys. If they'd been kept in original packaging you'd really have something I'm sure, but when we were kids we weren't thinking in terms of collectibility--we just wanted to play and have fun. If you haven't done so yet, check that stuff out to see what it's worth and then do a follow up post about it. I'd like to hear the outcome.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  8. Hi Theresa - I had this post opened .. but the machine must have gone off - so now I'm back.

    I've down-sized quite a lot in recent years and had my mother's and my uncle's homes to sort ... the things I've given away - I now want back ... silly really - but they should never have gone ... worthless things, but things that'd be useful now - sewing machine, and a black cheesecloth dress - easy to tart up ..

    Still well done on having that sort out .. cheers Hilary

  9. Sounds like a job well done. Your attic sounds like mine, you don't have to go up a ladder but through a door in the back wall of the bedroom (it's in the eaves of the house). This accessibility means we're in and out a lot (we keep stuff like passports in there), but it's quite a mess because I'm always moving stuff to find other stuff. Glad no one fell through the ceiling again... when was the last time that happened? Hope it wasn't too serious!

  10. Aw. good for you. That's a hard thing to do. Glad you weren't attacked by any gigantic spiders!

  11. Yay you. Enjoyed this post. I share your dislike of spiders. I don't want them to know it though because I fear they have super powers. I know it feels good to get a chore like that done. I need to spend some time in my garage and clean off the shelves. I stuffed things there last year when I moved in and haven't looked at it since. Just pushed it onto the dusty shelf and ignored. Ugh. I'm rather clean a clean house than go after actual dirt! Have a great day.


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