My mother-in-law decided she needed to clean things out this weekend. Yeah, that isn't disconcerting at all. It started when she phoned me, needing tissue paper to pack things. So in a tiny panic, I walked a box and paper over to her. To find her standing on a little collapsible step stool. IN SLIPPERS. While my father-in-law watched. Raising parents is not for the weak, I keep telling you. I was speechless for a milli-second then announced "Oh GOOD, you're standing on a stool." To which, she says "Oh, pssh, I'm fine." as she clumsily steps down. CLEARLY.
She has done this before: giving away stuff. Last time it was giving away Christmas stuff then fast forward two years and she was wondering where her decorations were. This is SEPARATE from the "It's in the purple tote with the broken lid I don't like" conversation that we have annually.
I asked her why she was doing this and she mentioned that she wanted more space to put out the "Stuff that I like and want to look at." I admit, I got a little smart-assy and said "You live in a three-foot by three-foot house, what do you have that you can't SEE."
She mentioned that she had animal figurines that she thought my s-i-l had and she would like to see them. Well, first off: *I* have them and secondly: that was the agreement. If she wanted any of her stuff back, it was hers. But no, I was wrong: Teresa has the figurines. I started to argue then just said "I'll be back in a minute." I came home, grabbed this creepy dog thing that she loves and took it back over there. "Is this what you were talking about?" Yes, that was one of them.
Back over to the house I went, gathered up the rest, and took them back over there. Now she's flustered. She's worried that now I won't be able to look at them. I literally had to make myself wait to respond, count in my head, and then say "It's fine, they are yours and you will enjoy them more than me." Whew. What I wanted to say is that I forgot that I had them until you mentioned them. But I did not.
Now it's Tuesday. I went over there to drop off mail and she had the box ready for the goodwill. Kevin and I had already agreed that I would check out everything before it went anywhere to make sure she didn't give away heirloom stuff that the family would want. Also, I usually text the niece photos of stuff to see if she would want it.
I brought the box into my office and began to delve into it. The first thing was a candy bowl that is MINE that she used during the holidays. There was also a ribbon that was around another vase when we sent flowers over. So...great. I'm getting my own stuff back.
One of the other items was a glass hummingbird we gave her to set in her window. I'm certain she has no memory of it so my feelings aren't hurt beyond a "Huh, well, there we go." There is a plastic bird with mama bird and babies. I bobbled it and while trying to catch it, noticed it has batteries and makes noise. HARD PASS. There's also a fisherman figurine that does something similar. This is what I categorize as gifts for people who are impossible to buy gifts for and/or while in the hospital. (I think that's where the bird nest came from)
There were two glasses which are part of a set. I've lost track who has the set but I've always liked them so I put them in the china cupboard (iridescent blue carnival glass) There was a marigold carnival glass candy bowl and glass that was also part of a set that I DO have. The candy bowl is on the kitchen island for now and glass is in the cupboard. Good thing I took those animals out of there so I would have space.
There was an ugly brown tea cup set. It pinged in my memory so I set it aside for later. This morning I thought to look underneath and there's a note that says "Grandma Tippy's teacup". It was one of Kevin's grandmas favorite cups. So, whew, hooray for my scattered memory bank keeping (sorta) that information. Into the cupboard that goes.
Next up was a flower vase, just a clear wide-opening vase. At first I put it back into the box because: vase. Then this morning I realized it would be perfect to hold all the rocks I keep bringing home from walkies. Because right now, they're in my truck, on the kitchen windowsill, on my desk, on my office windowsill, in my actual office, everywhere. Kevin is delighted with that fact. (nope)
There was a blue mini-vase that is pretty but doesn't match anything in the house or china cupboard. This is where I explain that my mother-in-law is childlike when going "shopping", which is browsing endlessly through second-hand shops. She has to, HAS TO, buy something before she leaves. Has to. I'm guessing this odd little vase was one of those purchases.
Finally there was a heavy ceramic Christmas tree so I kept it because Christmas. A felt Santa doorhanger that stayed in the box. Candles that I don't need. A small picture frame that I don't need but will use. A heavy platter that I can't tell if it's vintage or second-hand. It's in the Waiting for Other's to Dibs pile.
And finally this adorable and slightly terrifying lamb:
It's one of those things where you see it and think "Oh, that's cute" then look at it a little more closely. OR IT LOOKS AT YOU MORE CLOSELY and discover that it's actually a little terrifying. What you can't see is that it has a halo and it's hollowed out for a candle? I mean, it's just the lamb that keeps giving. (nightmares)
So, add this to things to be prepared for with raising elderly parents. They will suddenly start giving stuff away. My mom did it without my knowledge until I happened to notice one day. Then I brought home some stuff that had hung in her kitchen since gawd was a boy. I can't think about what she sent away without us knowing. Also when downsizing the family house, remember to keep things they love but aren't quite ready to part with. Box them up and put them in a closet. Sometimes, those items can be returned for a visit and seeing them again will make them happy.