Monday, June 30, 2014


Day One: In which I unpacked an entire house and solved a minor medical crisis.

My parents moved this weekend. I swear to God, there are more boxes in my house than in theirs. College kids moving into their first apartment armed with little more than Salvation Army finds and some cast-offs from the family moved in with more boxes. Homeless people have more stuff. It was baffling. They had a big house. It was filled with crap. Liberally. And yet, here we were and there were barely enough boxes to fill one room, let alone one house.

However, since my mom seemed content to sit on the couch and do nothing, and my dad needed to keep taking frequent breaks due to age, I was pretty pleased to have fewer boxes to open. That is right up until I got out the scissors, the box cutter, the Swiss Army Knife, and Grindelwald’s wand to open the damn things. Secret organizations sending ancient artifacts to underground vaults put less tape on boxes than my dad. They also probably wash the relics before they wrap them, and possibly use materials other than gift bags, cardboard cutouts, and oven mitts to wrap breakables in, but maybe that’s why they have the big bucks. As I gingerly handled the various kitchen items, found places for them on the shelves, and tried to put order to chaos, it suddenly occurred to me that this was far too easy. One set of glasses and two mugs after a lifetime of living together? Where were the plates, bowls, and serving items? Where was the cutlery? For God’s sake, why couldn’t I find a spoon?

My mother threw them out, of course. She didn’t want to pack too much stuff.

Meanwhile, I was opening entire boxes filled with paper plates, anther filled with dozens of packets of cheese and crackers, and others filled with, no lie, empty bags. Not just the plastic ones you get at the grocery store, but actual empty dog food bags, and rice bags, etc. When I tossed them onto the garbage pile, I was told that they needed to be saved and used for picking up dog poop. I found a box of Tupperware all jumbled together and a box filled with nothing but plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

My dad literally just shoved everything not nailed down into a box and triple-taped it before my mother could get to it.

As I unpacked, I noticed a trend. My mom would wander by and try to unpack the exact box in which I was already elbow deep. She would move in alongside me, reach in, hand me an item, tell me what the item was, and then watch me put the item away. Yes, I know what a wine glass is, thank you. I would kindly point her toward another box, since many hands make light work, and she would immediately lose interest and drift out again. Over and over and over again.
At one point, I walked her into the master bedroom, told her that I refused to put away her clothes, pointed at the stack of boxes and told her to have at it. Every ten minutes for the next hour, I found her sitting in the living room again, studiously not unpacking. Her excuse – she couldn’t find the box of hangers.

Record scratch.

Wait, what? Why wouldn’t you just put the clothes, WITH hangers, into the boxes? Why would you take the time to take every single item off the hanger, pack the clothes, unpack the clothes, then put everything BACK on the hanger? Do you know how difficult it is to untangle an entire box filled with wire hangers? Jesus!

I spent quite a while unpacking books. I like to unpack books. I like to put them away by genre, in alphabetical order. That is actually fun for me. This was not fun. My mom was really helpful in that room too. She kept interrupting me to tell me that books were on the wrong shelf. I kept telling her that I was simply taking them all out first, and then organizing them after as it was far easier that way. She would nod and then tell me that something was on the wrong shelf again. I unpacked three full shelves of dog training books, one entire shelf of Harlequin romance-esque books, one shelf of books for my dad, and a shelf that had nothing on it except Good in Bed, Memoirs of a Geisha, and the Fifty Shades Trilogy. That one shelf alone might have scarred me for life. Oh, there were also multiple shelves of actual VHS and cassette tapes. If you ever need the soundtrack to Top Gun on cassette, I’m your girl.

Finally, I too, sat down on the couch. My mother turns to me and said, well, I guess your dad isn’t getting his oxygen.

Record scratch, part deux.

My dad has lung issues and needs oxygen to sleep lest he never wake up. He had been without it for a few days during the move and the new tanks had not been delivered. My mom decided to drop this little nugget of information after 5 p.m. on a Saturday, in the summer, in a house with no Internet. When I finally picked my jaw up off the floor, I immediately asked for the paperwork so I could make some calls.

My dad looked at my mom.

My mom looked at me.

“I threw that out too.”


Thankfully, (and after an emergency call to a doctor friend who is always willing to hand out free advice, much to my eternal thanks), with the help of my husband, an excellent customer service center rep, and a game technician who happily popped into her car long after hours to deliver his needed oxygen, the crisis was resolved. After feeding them the third meal of the day, and successfully managing to keep both of them alive one more day, I sent them home.

One point two miles away from mine. 

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