When Garage Sales Attack: Weeping Through Purge-atory

A card from Dad

By , Columnist

I am a Lazy Woman. Garage sales are so not my thing. They require a lot of work, energy, blood, sweat and tears. I had one this weekend and I literally shed blood on five occasions, and buckets of sweat all day. By the end of the day, I had the emotional acuity of a sleep deprived toddler.

One of the happiest parts of the day was watching the past go away in someone else’s arms. A couple of times, though, I felt myself wanting to clutch something back and not let go. I didn’t succumb, but purging is damn hard.

It was a pretty fun garage sale, because neighbors came to help, bring delicious food, or to just chat and have fun.  I have the best neighbors.  Disconnecting from them is hard.  So, all the laughter and joy was bittersweet.

Downright painful was the preparation for the garage sale, and wading through the rest of what is in my garage.  Going through paperwork has been the worst. I had a box of receipts from 1994. Really, Bridget? 1994?

I started to dump these receipts when I saw a very cool note from my dad amidst the flow of trash. I was horrified I had almost lost it. I then started going through the boxes more slowly, afraid of losing something special. Soon, I got cocky, thinking, “Well, I’ll catch all the important stuff!”

Moments later, I again almost tossed the most important card my dad ever gave me. I had remembered the gist of what was inside, but reading it anew 36 years later made me feel like a kid all over again:

My Bridget

You’re thirteen!  A magical number! What will you be: Doctor, Lawyer, Plumber?

There is plenty of time, to wish and to wonder

Will you be gentle as rain?

Or roar like thunder?

At this time of life the whole world is like clay:

To mold with your mind, but remember

Enjoy each day!

Some things will puzzle you and not make much sense:

But you may find answers

when others stay tense.

Your thoughts, those of others

You may leave behind

And every so often you’ll think

That idea is MINE!

Whatever your dreams

Whatever you do

I’ll stand right beside

For I Love You!

Your Dad

I will never forget this card, even if I lose it. I really understood that whatever I did from that point forward, he was behind me 1000%. Priceless.

Today I’m going back into the garage to consolidate boxes, some of which are full of things my dad left behind when he died a couple years ago. I’m purging for us both now.  The layers of purge-atory are many.

The cool thing I keep getting is that none of the stuff matters. You don't have to find the right box for the important things, and they cannot be shredded or destroyed.

And, the best thing about Purge-atory is the heavenly freedom I will get from creating space.  I can feel it comin’!

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Bridget Fonger is the co-author of “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Just About Everything,” a book that helps women become happier, more passionate and fulfilled by living the “Lazy Way,” aka with less stress and more joy! Ms. Fonger has been featured on HGTV several times with her home décor and…

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