We are assimilating the “stuff” of my mother-in-law into our house. Her large furniture has been sold, or put in use in our house: one bedroom set and three easy chairs. In the garage are a mattress and box springs (surplus), and an extra box springs (bought by someone years ago but never picked up). In the house are mostly smaller items, including linens and paper items. Those will take time to go through. The garage is full of her stuff spread out on tables, mostly marked for sale. When the sale will actually take place is a mystery, but hopefully soon. Part of our work yesterday was more work going through the pantry to see what might be too old to keep, seeing what was now duplicated, etc.
Meanwhile, the need to de-clutter has been on our minds. We knew we had to start, so that we dodn’t leave our kids in the place my dad left us, with a houseful of stuff to be sorted, priced, and sold or discarded. Yet, saying you will de-clutter is easier than actually doing it.
I made a little progress two weekends ago. I moved things around in the basement storeroom to accommodate a spare bedroom set. While doing so I found four suitcases we’ve had since heading to Saudi Arabia in 1981. These are well-traveled suitcases, but still in good condition. We originally had 12, of two different sizes, but through the years the others have been damaged and discarded. Even though we have new suitcases, we kept these because…why did we keep them? I suppose because they were in good condition and we thought we might use them someday. I pulled them out and set them in a place where I can easily take them upstairs when we have the garage sale, which hopefully will be soon.
Then, behind where the suitcases were, I saw my old trumpet. I bought this in the fall of 1963 (6th grade), with my own money, Dad later chipping in with some money he owed me (that’s a long story), and played in the school band from 6th grade through 12th grade. Truth is, I was never very good, and in high school never made it past 3rd trumpet. But I enjoyed it and I played.
Then came adulthood and children and overseas adventures. The trumpet went in storage twice while we were out of the country, and otherwise was in whatever storeroom we had in whatever house we lived in. Here in Bella Vista that’s the basement storeroom. The last time I played it was about 20 years ago. The interim of no practice hadn’t made me a better player.
So I thought, “Time to de-clutter; unused trumpet.” Two and two went together. I thought I should donate it to a school district for a kid who wanted to play but couldn’t afford one. The problem was the case was really beat up. I once rammed it into a fence post while trying to avoid hitting Adele Palazzo with it between home and school (another story, not so long). That gave it a crack, which later expanded, and a small piece of the case was lost. Then, around 1997 I loaned it to a family at church who couldn’t afford to buy one. It came back in a few weeks with several long cracks in the case. And when I pulled it from storage, a 7-inch piece of the case was on the floor under it. Would anyone want it with a severely damaged case?
I decided to check. One of my wife’s step-sister’s husband works at a Catholic school system, was a music major years ago, and is involved in music with the school. I asked him if his school system would like it, damaged as it is, and he said yes, very much so. I told him I’d bring it to Oklahoma City next time we were there, and he said he’d actually be passing through our area soon and would pick it up. That happened yesterday, and it is now gone, somewhere in Norman, OK, waiting to be used by some student who can’t afford one and can live with a bad case.
So I say goodbye, old friend. Sorry I never gave you a name. You were part of my life for 52 years, though admittedly I’ve neglected you for the last 45. You were money well-spent. Yesterday it was nice to see your valves still worked after at least two decades without maintenance. May you find love in a new home, and help some kid to come to appreciate music. And may your tones bless the world for decades to come. Over the next year, no telling how many of your storeroom buddies will also find new homes.