If you look up "packrat" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of my Grandma Jackie. Her two-bedroom apartment was stuffed to the gills, basically just leaving linear paths to move around in, with no actual space. Now that she's gone, my dad's family gets to go through and figure out what to do with it all. I spent all weekend and also yesterday evening up there, along with Dad, all of his siblings, and varying numbers of cousins. So at any given time there were usually 6-9 of us trying to maneuver around in this little space, preferrably without breaking anything.
A lot of the stuff, of course, is getting divvied up between family members, based on either sentimental or practical desires. Even more of it is getting donated to the local hospice thrift shop. We started by filling the bed of a pickup truck with garbage bags filled with clothes. There's still another batch of those to go, too, I think. And then the books. After we had each taken a box or a few for ourselves, and Aprill and Lamar had gotten several boxes of books on Christianity for their church's library, there were still 34 boxes left to get donated. Then a few more of music and videos and such. Plus trinkets, figurines and knicknacks up the wazoo (the raccoons alone took up a box of their own). And there was plenty of pure junk as well. I lost track of how many boxes of stuff I threw away. And even after all of this, there's probably still more stuff in that apartment than I own myself, but progress is definitely visible.
The very sentimental stuff is getting handled more carefully, of course. The evolving method is to pick an item type (e.g. pictures on the walls) and then have people take turns choosing what they want to take, working through a hierarchy of siblings by age, and then into the second generation (mine) when the first has the most important stuff, and occasionally into the third, since Kathy's granddaughter Jessie was there last night as well. Anything left over after that is up for grabs until it gets packed away.
Anyway, it's been a really interesting few days. I think it's been good to have so much of the family together and working on a big project together like this. There's a huge mix of personality types in the group, but on some level there's definitely something that we all "get" about Jackie and her passing. We can all miss her and love her while still laughing at her eccentricities and her ability to just "keep on giving." So it's been good.