Now that the most essential sorting and unpacking is done here, it's time to return to work on the other sorting and packing, at my grandparent's home. My grandmother named it "Alto Vista," and it has borne that name on the welcome mat for 25 years, grating against my admittedly limited, but better than that, knowledge of Spanish the whole time. We always just called it "The Hill." The Hill does indeed have a spectacular view, of The Mountain (Rainier) when it is "out," and of the Sound except in cases of extreme fog.
But we--Wondergirl and I for this task--are not admiring the view, but sitting in the back office sorting through dusty papers and loose screws. Even a fastidious housekeeper like my grandmother had a few odd corners--or perhaps those only accumulated in the last few years when she couldn't get around any more. It's hard to explain to a housekeeper what to do with the papers on the back of the desk and my grandfather, while not a slob, kept everything that might or might not come in handy. In a book this task would be enlivened, depending on the genre, by hunting for the concealed fortune or uncovering a gruesome secret, but in real life it is just long piles of old lists and receipts and loose change.
Every single thing needs a decision made; every single thing we choose to part with or dispose of is a piece of their life and existence forever severed. So many things are mysteries, but mundane mysteries that cannot be solved and do not need to be solved. (Why the shopping list--and definitely a one-time shopping list, not a weekly one--neatly typed on a card and enshrined forever in a plastic sleeve?) So many things are memories, but one cannot hold on to every memory. So many things could be useful, but there is too much usefulness all at once. I have already hauled home three boxes of office supplies and my closet is nearly full. I am starting to just pick up things and say, "The kids would love this--let's get rid of it, quick."
Today is another day of it, and then there will be another, and another. I don't want to do it, and I don't want to be done, and I don't want it to drag on any longer. So I must keep on doing it, because I am one of the grownups now.