Cleaning Out The Hall Closet Forces Me To Confront The Past


It’s spring cleaning time. Need I say more?

Well, yes, I do. I need to say that I thought that the massive amount of cleaning I did during the pandemic would last a lifetime. It didn’t. Evidently, there were nooks and crannies that even prolonged boredom could not force me to enter — the hall closet, for example.

The hall closet is not a real closet. It’s small and dark and more or less ignored. When opened, its door blocks entry to one of the bedrooms, so I have eagerly dubbed it “problematic,” whether anyone intends to go into the that room or not. But recently, said door refused to close all the way, so it was time to take a look.

I thought I knew what I would find — a few jackets, a couple pairs of shoes and anything my husband Mark thinks he will wear again, and I know he won’t.

Boy, was I wrong. In the first place, there were tons of jackets, as well as other “Wisconsin wear” for when I go back home — coats, vests, hats, gloves, mufflers, even shoes with spikes on them (not the Florida kind for walking on the golf course, the Wisconsin kind for walking on ice).

And there weren’t “a couple pairs of shoes,” there was a big box of shoes. Admittedly, most of the shoes didn’t fit or were so ugly I couldn’t believe I’d ever bought them, but I know what I was thinking — “I’ll wear these when I paint the house.” Well, the house was painted three years ago, and the shoes are still here. In fact, I have enough shoes to paint every house on the block.

I can’t throw out Mark’s stuff, since he still thinks he’s going to wear it. But I can go through the shelf where I put the grandkids’ stuff. This “stuff” is comprised of clothes that were still in the laundry when they left, a couple of spare toothbrushes, and a present or six that I bought them for no reason. (I’m the grandma! If I want to spend my Social Security money on toys, I will!)

Jammed into the back corner of that shelf are two diapers and a pacifier. I fish them out, but it breaks my heart to throw those things away, even though the kids are 9 and 11 now.

Tossing out a binkie was a completely unforgivable sin just a few years ago, it seems. In fact, I remember purchasing binkies from drug stores, supermarkets and gas stations at any price if it was an emergency situation. Once, on an airplane, Mark had to hold me back from giving a woman $100 for a sucked-on binkie that had fallen to the floor once her child was asleep.

There are also two little sleeping bags — once adored, now hated — because they are separately emblazoned with Spider-Man (“I have an official scout sleeping bag now, Grandma. Anyway, that one’s too short!”) and a Disney princess (“Princesses are for babies!”).

So, I throw out the sleeping bags, the shoes, half the outerwear and the diapers. But not the binkie.

I just can’t do it.