It is 3 days before my scheduled move and I have arranged for Housing Works to come and pick up most of my husband’s clothing, that my son and daughter decided they would not hold onto, along with the wood kitchen table, which didn’t fit in my new apartment and which neither offspring needed.

Going through my husband’s closet and dresser was, unquestionably, the hardest experience in this entire downsizing episode.  Everything was untouched from the day of his leaving for the hospital to go in for the heart surgery, including even the white dress shirt he wore with the tuxedo on the evening of our daughter’s wedding, 4 days before the surgery.

In my past 2 years of widowhood, I have met a number of women who were able to accomplish this task almost immediately.  One woman, in a bereavement group that I joined within the first 3 months of his death, said she “got rid of her husband’s clothes at once.”  Without being spurred on by this move, I’m not sure how or when I would have accomplished it.  Luckily, both my son and daughter came by on a Sunday to help with the sorting and, eventually, putting all the well-made suits, sports jackets, sweaters, etc. into big black contractor trash bags to be taken by Housing Works, a non-profit that uses the proceeds from its retail stores to pay for research to cure AIDS.  I would have preferred for the research to cure Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), but the PKD Foundation has no pick-up trucks or such a well-organized donation operation.

In addition to the 4 bags of clothing, Housing Works was also scheduled to pick up the rectangular oak kitchen table that was just too big for my new apartment.  It was certainly the one place in the entire house where very important events, decisions, announcements, plans, stories and, even, meals happened.  It’s where we had our family birthday parties (complete with a “Happy Birthday” plastic birthday tablecloth that the birthday person would autograph in permanent marker on his or her birthday).  It’s where my husband would sit down and help our daughter with Latin translations for homework, sometimes after we’d come home late from an evening out. It’s, of course, where we enjoyed family dinners or meals on weekends, plotted out trip itineraries, and even where our son and daughter worked on college applications because all the papers could be spread out.  It also had leaves which extended out from each end to accommodate large family gatherings for Thanksgiving buffets or dinners for 6 or more in front of the kitchen fireplace.

The 2 guys from Housing Works walked into the kitchen, each holding a tape gun, and began fiercely taping the ends so that the leaves couldn’t possibly slide out.  Perhaps they thought the leaves would spring out to protest the removal of the table from the house.  After a few seconds, I  had to stop watching.

The Kitchen Table About to be Taped


There are certainly those for whom possessions are supposed to be meaningless.  For me, these are my links to the past.