My daughter asked, “How many cupboards do you have left to empty?”
I sighed as I repositioned the phone, “Just the ones to the right of the kitchen sink.” After a pause, “Wait, that’s not true. I haven’t taken stuff out from under the sink.” After another pause, I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I’ve forgotten about the cupboard above the stove!”
The men I’d hired to remodel my kitchen were coming tomorrow morning, so for the past four hours I’d been working nonstop, moving things out of their way. The job seemed endless. I decided I owned too many things and resolved to get rid of unnecessary and duplicate items.
I’d started this job with an organized plan. I wrote numbers on the boxes and recorded what drawer or cupboard contents were inside. Fatigue and urgency side-tracked my plan to keep track. When I ran out of table space for the boxes, I began to put them on the floor. Eventually, I ran out of floor space in the dining room and started to fill the office and living room.
Then I ran out of boxes before the cupboards were empty. A run through the house netted me a laundry hamper, two picnic baskets, an oversized shoe box and one large storage tub. The last cupboard filled a dresser drawer in the guest bedroom Tammie uses when she visits.
My feet hurt, and I ached all over. I hadn’t taken the time to sit down to eat since eleven in the morning. Although not hungry, I popped a few chocolate chips, dried apricots and crackers into my mouth as I worked. Exhaustion washed over me as I carried the final boxes out of the kitchen. The hour hand on the dining room wall clock pointed at eight and the minute hand at 12.
I glared at the clock, angry that cleaning out the cupboards had taken so long. For seven, painful hours I’d been hard at it. Instead of a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, I felt unsettled. This was the way my house would be for the next month. During that time, I knew it would be difficult to cook a meal, wash a kettle or slice and toast bread. Horrified, I looked around at my hoarder’s-paradise-dining room and wondered, “Where are my pans, the dish soap, my knives?”
In the morning I wanted to make a pot of tea. It took a full minute to remember that I’d put the tea next to the bookshelf. Sighing with resignation, I decided to put a positive spin on my disorganized plight. I mused, “Finding what I need is like exercising my brain, like playing mix and match.”
In the computer I entered ‘mix and match games’ and hit search. A window popped up that said, “Mix and match games are good for the brain. It helps to improve concentration, train visual memory, increase short term memory and increase attention to detail.”
I thought, “Small children like to play mix and match games. It helps them learn when they attend school. I wonder what the computer has to say about what older people should do to keep their minds in tip-top shape?”
This time my search words were ‘memory games for elderly’. Never at a loss for information, my computer immediately opened a window listing things to do that exercise brains: working jigsaw puzzles, playing cards, dancing. listening to music and meditating. I laughed, “These things fit very comfortably in a retired person’s life.”
Looking at the piles of kitchen supplies in my dining room, I texted my daughter, “The workmen are here. Thank heavens I managed to get everything out of the kitchen last night!”