Dad’s Now All About Downsizing

There are so many feelings I need to sort through.


For years, Hubby and I have been encouraging my Dad to downsize and move into a place closer to our home.  Yet when he finally announced he was ready it hit as a jolt.  Part of me recognizes the good in this—Dad is very social and I know the place he wants to move is terrific.  However, the part I’m now struggling with is what a move like this really means for Dad, not to mention me.


It’s Got To Be Lonely


The truth is I’ve been worried about Dad living alone ever since Mom moved into a memory care facility for Alzheimer’s.  So far he’s managed it as he’s managed most things in life—with the efficiency and expertise I’d expect.  If he see’s a need he takes care of it.  Yet, when you’ve shared your life with your loving partner for over 50 years, I suspect it’s a lonely feeling to make all the decisions or do all the chores by yourself.


A Buddy Convinced Him


Recently, Dad was introduced to new retirement community by one his fellow volunteer buddies.  For some reason it struck a chord, and Dad has decided it’s time to make his final move.  Moving is never easy.  There are tons of decisions to make, and in this case the job feels monumental.  We now face whittling down what my parents have managed to collect over the decades they lived together.  It’s a HUGE task.  We have to sort through countless items and decide what to keep, what to pass down and what to let go.  And it’s so much harder because most items seem to have some kind of emotional significance attached. Even things I don’t really want or need can bring back all these memories of Mom or Dad or the times we spent together.  It can feel excruciatingly painful to decide what’s best.


Mom’s Treasures


And then there’s Mom—she’s not dead, but her memory and physical abilities are now a mere fraction of what they were.  I know if she were really all with us she’d play a huge role in what items to keep and what to pass on.  Yet as things stands, it sometimes feels as if I’m a vulture picking over her not-quite-dead-yet bones.  There are all these items she collected and treasured, and each held some meaning to her, or to her and Dad.  If I decide I don’t want them, will I somehow dishonor her or them?  Or if I take them, am I taking them because I really want them, or because I’m afraid to really feel the grief and loss that comes from letting go?   Either way, there is a strong sense I’m the only one standing at the airport carousel and I’m being inundated with planeload after planeload of emotional baggage.



How Should We Downsize?


My parents have gathered so many wonderful “things” over the years there is simply no way that Dad can take even a fraction of it to his new place. That means it’s now time to bite the bullet and figure out what to do with the rest.  Do we hold a garage or estate sale? Should we look for a consignment shop? Should we just give up and build a huge bonfire? None of these really feel like good options. We’ve been to so many garage and estate sales we know the prices we’d get won’t approach the true value of most items.  A consignment shop could bring a bit more, but how long will that take and where do we find a good one?  And even though the bonfire is appealing at some base level, I’d never throw away so many useful and memory-laden items.


Making It Personal


In the end, I suspect we’ll do several things including donate some items to people in need. We’ve donated many items to places like Goodwill in the past.  I’m sure all that has helped someone, somewhere, but in this case I’d like to think I could make a donation that didn’t feel so impersonal.  And I’d also like to try and help people my parents might like to help.  For this reason, I thought it would be perfect to look into the needs of military families, especially as my dad is a veteran and does a lot of veteran-related volunteering.


Families In Need


To that end, I asked around and did a bit of searching on the internet.  In the process I found a couple of websites I wanted to share just in case you are helping someone try to downsize, or in case you have items you wish to donate.  The first is Operation Homefront.  This site provides a way to donate time, money or items to military families.


The second site is  It has all kinds of links to other sites which will allow you to donate, send cards, buy items for troops in the field, and more—all in the name of helping our heroic servicemen and women and their families. For example, one link is to an organization dedicated to foster pets for soldiers who are deployed—I’m so awed by people who think of these things and then make them happen.


Hope For A Brighter Day


Though downsizing and sorting through Dad and Mom’s stuff seems painful at times, I’d like to think our old treasures end up in good homes and help create special memories for families in need.   In a way, thinking they will allows me to maintain my hope and faith in the future.  Whether you’re going through the process like I am, or if you’re just looking for a way to help honor the people who serve our country, I encourage you to check out the links above.


If you enjoyed today’s post, you may also want to read:
The Top Of Mom’s Head


One Response to Dad’s Now All About Downsizing

  • Bobbi Welch says:

    Hooray for you Carol. Although many things have memories attached, we have to remember that they are just “things and the time will come when they have served their purpose. Take pictures of special things and make an album for your Dad. Just a glance through will bring back the memories without the encumbrance and you can all know that they are bringing comfort to someone else.


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