My grandma was 90 years old and living independently in her recently built home for three years. We lived just 2 miles away in the farm house she had taken care of for 60 years prior. My sisters family and my family were her only living descendants.
The call came while I was at work.
“You should come to your grandma’s house.”
The day was a blur. No one lives forever but I had started to think that Grandma might. As the sun set, I took the task of securing documents in the house. Then I started sorting the fridge, because…grief. And also, food expires.
I bagged groceries to take home and also threw away groceries that were expired. A few things had expired before she moved into the house. Which was confusing, but hey – Grandma is going to do what Grandma is going to do.
My methods were haphazard. This didn’t need to be done today, but I needed to do something today. I moved along to the second refrigerator. The one in the garage.
As happens when I’m in this head space, I began to focus on very small details.
This should be simple: $1 tub of margarine, maybe half used, throw away.
Now: Tub of margarine, half-used, check the “best by” date, open, check for mold, find out it’s actually left-over green beans, throw away. Or keep?
I began working through the second fridge with this attention to detail. There was a cardboard box full of…random groceries:
Half of a head of lettuce, soggy. Toss.
Expired bologna with mold visible. Toss.
Bag of chocolate chips that expired before Grandma moved into this house. Hesitate. Toss.
Bag of chocolate chips that is not yet expired. Keep.
Gallon sized grocery bag of money.
Fridge clean-out on hold, I returned to the house and started to count the money. $4,818. Various denominations of money. I call my wife. I call my sister. Because. What?
In that moment, I’m mostly thinking “What would have happened if I had just looked at the cardboard box with the rotten lettuce and moldy bologna on top and thrown the whole box in the trash?” Basically, “what would have happened if I was a rational person.” As I looked around the house in that moment I also realized: Sorting things out at this house just got a lot more tedious.