This one has more than a little of me in it. I did have to clean out the family home when my parents were gone. Fortunately for me, I have the world’s best family, a sister and brother-in-law to shoulder more than half the burden (they live closer) and help make all of the decisions, and I married the handyman a long time ago, but the story was there. Maybe it will be a wake-up call for those of us with hoarder instincts or at least a cautionary tale for our parents. In any case, I hope it reminds us all of us to share what’s important. We found so many things that we didn’t know about and it was too late to ask. We didn’t know who was in some of the pictures, or who gave us that vase or who made those decorations. They had always been there and we’d never thought to ask. Next time you get together with family, take the time to ask those questions, have someone tell stories (they can’t all be embarrassing) and even if they are, you already lived through them. And then, because we’re writers – write them down, store them somewhere, use the ideas later if you want to. Everything can be an inspiration. Use it.
Ashley trailed him up the stairs, obviously torn between eagerness and fear. Matt reached for the doorknob but stopped at the last minute and stepped back. She looked at him questioningly.
“It’s your princess room, or will be, you should open it.”
Okay, now fear definitely grew as the top emotion. He could feel it coming off her in waves, but he stood by as she squared her shoulders and opened the door.
Well, she’d been right about using the place as an attic. Dust and cobwebs were everywhere. But the piles of stuff caught even him off guard.
“Man, you called it.” He stepped into the room and brushed some of the webs aside. He moved cautiously toward the window and moved the curtain. It shredded in his hands. “Damn, I’m sorry.”
“No problem. Not my style anyway.”
He only nodded and levered the window open, then moved to the next one. Once all four of the windows creating the bay were wide open he turned back. “Do you want me to haul this stuff downstairs or go through it here?”
“Here. But I think we’re going to need another box of trash bags.”
“Yeah, you think? I’ll go get them and a broom. Will you be okay?”
She nodded. He headed for the door, but her hand brushed his arm. “Thank you.”
He winked at her and kept moving. Jesus, what had she gone through?
Returning he brought the broom, trash bags, wet wipes, rags and a stool for her to sit. This would take a while, maybe a lifetime.
He tied a rag around the broom and used it to bring down the webs around the ceiling. No need to sweep yet, and no room.
Ashley pulled open the closest box. The cardboard had dried out and the tape no longer stuck, so it wasn’t hard. “Jesus.”
“These are my grandparents canceled checks.”
“1947 on this one.”
“19 . . . ” His voice trailed off. She was serious. She held one up for him to see. “Do you need a shredder?”
“This bank went out of business before I was born. Do you think there’s anything that would bite me in this box?”
“I don’t think so, but give me a minute.” He took the broom handle and shoved the stacks of checks around. “It’s all checks. I swear, I never . . .”
“This can go to the curb, if we can get it downstairs without the box ripping.”
“Let’s put it in a bag anyway. You don’t want checks floating around town.”
“No, you’re right.” She shook her head and helped him shove the box into the bag. He tied it tightly and headed for the stairs.
“Wait for me.” He turned before he started down the stairs.