If it's not seen...it doesn't exist.

My dear, late husband surely thought this way.  Long ago, in a far away place, he brought to our house drawers stuffed with stuff.  It had planes and more planes (that means planes as in models, and planes as in woodworking).  The drawers had electrical stuff.  Electrical stuff for houses, and stuff for those model planes, and model boats, and tools.  Some broken, some very cool. And there was loads of boat stuff.

But they all had one thing in common.  They were stuffed into drawers in our garage or carriage house. If I couldn't see them or if he couldn't see them, they were alright, just they way they were. Alot of the stuff was his dad's.  And I'm sure he wanted to get to that stuff.  But he never did.

But I do think he loved having his Dad's stuff nearby.  His dad was killed in a training flight for Western Airlines, back in the early 1970's.  I have the accident reports up in my own closet but it's been years since I've looked at them.  I did not have the opportunity of knowing the man who Carl worshiped.

Carl loved working with his dad in his garage, when he was wasn't flying professionally.  He told me that Dick had a bit of a temper and would throw things, but he never hit anybody or threw those items at people. He was super talented...Dick built a wonderful boat for the family to take to Catalina.  He built a single engine plane with a 65 horse power engine that had an open cockpit and a flight helmet from WWII.

Carl inherited that Bower's Flybaby when Dick died.  And then I flew it all over northern California when I was doing my cross-country flights for time and experience. In time we sold the plane.  We just had access to too many toys.

Using a garage as a shop is what Carl brought to our marriage.  We/I have never parked a car in a garage, to this day.  I was selling real estate when I told him I thought I found a larger place, with units, for us, and his mom to invest in.

He asked me two questions.  Does it have a garage?  Yes, a car can't get to it and it's a double carriage house. A larger shop for him.  Good.  And does it have room for a spa?  What? You want a spa?  Yes. Well, I have good news for you.  There is a spa there, off the main bedroom.  It's covered, with slider doors that open to the outside.

He only saw the front exterior of the building.  He could just barely see the garage.  Then he left for England to meet with a client.  On the way to the airport we stopped by the title/escrow company and he signed a power of attorney for me.  That left me and his mom (a deadly combination) to buy the house. And that's what we did.

At the same time we put our duplex on the market and got it sold.  Because of his mom many of our dreams came true. She financed our first house, a duplex.  And then she bought half of the five units - the half that had apartments.  The other half made up our large house plus one apartment.  It seemed to be a win-win for all.

That was then.  And now... it's all different.  He is gone. She is gone. My adult kids have gone south: to San Diego and further south in New Zealand.  The house is mine.  I paid his mom's estate for her half in the very down market.  And since he passed in 2002, I've cleared out that garage three times, major-ly.  The last was just a couple of months ago.

What exists in drawers cannot be seen.  This time I opened up those drawers. And instead of closing them right away, I looked in them. And I sighed. Now is the moment. And then it was moments.  And then it was days.  Three days.  And 11 crates of stuff.  And that stuff stayed in those crates in the backyard for almost one week.  But my friend said he take it all.  And he did.

I have cabinets now, in the carriage house.  A good friend asked if I'd wanted them a few years ago, the last time I cleaned the place out.   Yes, please. They had been used at his office, and were more than functional. Another friend masterfully hung them all up.

The kids don't know it yet...but when S&S (Sutter and Sean) show up at the end of July and E&E (Evan and Erin) come for family time over the holidays, they are going to be invited to their own closet clearings!

Take what you want (or not), I'm tired of housing the old toys, dolls, collections, stuffed animals and unused holiday decorations.  Ev made a huge dent in the stuff that was collecting dust in his bedroom closet recently.  Simply said, I was going to sell the numerous, unopened (for years) boxes of baseball cards and take anything I could get for them.  And just like magic...voila!  Gone!

I'm paring down.  I didn't ask to be the depository for both sides of family historical materials, from national model airplane competitions on film from the 1950's, to footage of Transpacific Yacht Races, set to music - all by Carl's dad.  I've become the caretaker of aviation memorabilia that has involved hundreds of people over the last 60 years, thanks to some of the fly boys whose wives and/or girlfriends don't want it.  In due time I expect much of the stuff will find new homes in various specialty museums.

I find it strangely comforting.  Clearing out the drawers and cabinets and filling somebody else's.

Now THAT is living richly.  marilyn


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