Who would have thought that something as simple and as worn as old roller bag suitcases could send me into a well of sadness? For the fourth Saturday, we have been cleaning out the storage unit where I put all my parents things after my dad died in 2013, and then added in the few remaining items when my mom passed in 2016. Yes, it’s been over five years that we’ve been paying for a 10×15 climate-controlled storage unit. Running out of estate money has made it a priority to clear things out.
Three weeks ago we took all the remaining furniture and bed to Good Will and to the dump. Two weeks ago we shifted everything remaining into a much smaller space and then took boxes of books home to sort through. The suitcases did not make it into the first run to the dump. Nor did they make it to the second run. Today, we planned on getting the rest of the books and figure out what, of what remained, would go to Good Will and what would go to the dump. This time, I knew the suitcases should go. As we were talking before we left the house, I started tearing up. There’s something about those suitcases that, more than any of the stuff/items/furniture I’ve been sorting through over the last month, most fully evokes my parents for me. I can picture them in my mind’s eye, walking steadily, if not rapidly, through various airports, pulling the bags behind them. Philly, Dublin, Munich, San Francisco, Portland, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong…they traveled a lot and enjoyed the hell out of it. Always with those roller bags.
Interestingly, they were the exceptions among their siblings. My mom’s sister would come out to Philly after my parent’s moved out here and she made one epic trip to South America, including Antarctica, with her second husband. But after that trip, she stuck to traveling between Sacramento and San Francisco, and then Philadelphia.
My uncle, my dad’s brother, hasn’t left the West Coast since he moved there after leaving the Navy. Now he lives in central Washington and travel is limited to driving down to Sunriver, Oregon, where we all meet up for a family reunion every year, and down to Napa Valley for short wine-tasting vacations. Other than that, they don’t travel. Of course, my aunt (uncle’s wife) doesn’t drive and is afraid to fly. That will limit your excursions.
I find that I’m sort of halfway in between. I love to travel, especially to Europe and around this country. But, I find that multiple trips in a couple of months are tiring and afterwards all I want to do is sit at home for about six months.
We got to the dump and while I was fussing with getting a couple of old lamps out of the back of the car, Mike got the suitcases and tossed them into the back of the trash truck. I didn’t even see them go, and I actually thought we’d forgotten to get them out of the car until we left. I’m glad I didn’t see them go. I tend to anthropomorphize things a lot and seeing them in the trash truck likely would have wrecked me.
It’s done and I’m okay with it. It was time. Who knew suitcases could evoke such emotions?