My husband and I have been helping his parents clean out their home of 25 years. They’re getting ready to downsize and needed extra hands to help with this enormous task.
My father-in-law saved everything. And I mean everything. As we wrapped up cleaning the garage this last weekend, we finally had to deal with all those things we kept shoving into the corner to “deal with later.”
I think there is a mindset that later will never come. But it always does.
We spent the first hour we were there trying to get our bearings, but I really think we were overwhelmed deciding what to do with all the latex paint my husband’s father had collected. I’d like to say it was from projects he had done, but it really just came from thrift shops—it was a good deal at $2.00 a can.
He may or may not have had projects in mind. Who knows? All I knew is it was time to deal with it. Have you ever tried to get rid of 20 gallons (give or take 10 gallons) of latex paint? Many months before, we had asked the people at the dump what to do with it. It’s not collected at the household hazardous waste sites anymore. They instructed us to solidify it with something, sand or dirt, then we could throw it away at the regular dump.
We decided on a powdered compound we found at Home Depot. You pour it into paint, it turns it from a liquid to a solid—really more of a gelatinous mixture. We chose it because it came in little packets like dehydrated soup. Hindsight, we probably should have gotten a couple bags of sand.
Another couple hours were spent opening cans, pouring the powder in, stirring it up and waiting for it to do its job.
We swept up, gathered other items for the recycle facility, poured powder, stirred, threw more items in the truck for the dump run. Around 2 p.m., we headed off to the dump with garbage, latex paint and hazardous waste.
I haven’t even told you about the hazardous waste.
After you dump your trash (and solidified latex paint), you weigh, pay, and make a U-turn and go into the hazardous waste area. They got pretty excited over the variety of our hazardous waste. They were training new people and suddenly had many new hazards to show the trainees, but really, being a small town in a remote area, they didn’t normally get much business, and certainly not such an assortment. I think we make their week.
We then went back to the house and garage, satisfied with a job well done. But there was one more big paper elephant in the room: 40 plus years’ worth of paperwork. Every receipt, every bank statement, every credit card bill, every letter, every greeting card, other people’s letters and cards, every tax refund and all the papers that went with it. I know I said they’d lived in the house for only 25 years, but he moved all his papers with him every time he relocated.
We hauled it all home with us. I had imagined I’d find the great shredding place in the sky, but I came up empty handed, at least for anything open over the weekend. We’re talking eight large garbage bags and three boxes full of paperwork.
I’ll let you speculate what we may have decided to do with all this paperwork, but we did go through every bit of it. My husband and I bonded. We reminisced. I learned new things about his family. Our marriage is much stronger after this weekend, we didn’t kill each other. But next time we want to spend alone time together, we should just go out to dinner.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is busy hardening more cans of latex paint. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.”