“I would not be just a nuffin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain.”
– The Wizard of Oz
My sister’s working hard to get my parent’s home ready for sale. Their not-so-old farmhouse sits on a five acre tract of land that has been in my mother’s family longer than I have. It’s sad to think that it no longer will be. But what choice is there? It’s too much for my sister to manage on her own.
So far, most of Christi’s efforts have been spent on the house, which with the land, are the property’s strongest selling points. Sitting on the liability side of the balance sheet are the garage and storage building. Both are stuffed to the gills with who-know’s-what; all of which must be removed, as either building on its own has the potential to scare off buyers.
The storage building was the foundation of Mom’s long-held dream of running a little gift store just steps from her front door. Most didn’t think it would survive so far from town, and ultimately, the naysayers proved right. The store soon closed its doors and the building became a convenient place to store all of Mom’s supplies and her very raw materials.
Mom was crafty. If anyone could turn the yards and yards of fabric and lace and all the broken furniture and other junk into treasure, Mom was one to do it; of course, it would have helped had Mom lived longer, bought less or if Mom had enjoyed some of the nine lives of the scary cat who once called the storage building home.
One of the last crafts Mom made for me was a four-foot scarecrow. Like most of Mom’s work, the scarecrow was made from scratch, — a little fabric, raffia, rope, paint and stuffing — all from her storehouse of clutter. When it was finished, Mom dressed it in one of Dad’s old shirts and a pair of Dad’s old soft blue jeans. I once thought this scarecrow that hangs out in my foyer in the autumn months was Mom’s last scarecrow. However, I now see this honored title rightfully belongs to the storage building of my sister’s scary inheritance.
It was the storage building, and my sister’s talk of demolition, that drove my husband and I to visit yesterday; we came not to actually begin the work of heavy lifting, but to assess and make plans on where and how to help. The questions are many; while the clutter makes it hard to stumble upon the right answer.
Is demolishing the best alternative for my parent’s storage building? Or would it be better to rent huge dumpsters to fill and haul away what anyone in their right mind would call junk or trash? Maybe a new buyer might find a use for a clean empty building in need of repairs and a makeover; and if not, perhaps the building could be demolished at some later date or even given away.
This last option was Mom’s oldest brother’s plan of attack; Uncle Bob discussed it with my sister a few months after Mom’s passing, then led the charge to clean up my mother’s storage building. The family crew that gathered in the wintery cold worked hard to fill one huge dumpster with outside debris. And once the front door was cleared of a rotting front porch, did they, like us, open the door to become quickly overwhelmed?
If so, my aunt wasn’t put off for long. Aunt Georgia returned to enter those doors and rummage through some of the scraps of Mom’s dreams. One treasure hunt led her to find a baby book of mine — one I never recall seeing before — the sort that records family trees and a registry of hospital visitors. But its surprise appearance has made me wonder what other family memorabilia might be hiding within Mom’s last scarecrow.
Deciding how best to proceed will require a careful balancing act, one that weighs matters of both heart and mind. If only I didn’t have this tendency to get distracted by clutter and matters of the heart. If only I had a brain… If I only had a brain.