Another trip to Nebraska with my nursing baby in tow. This time my stay was just over ten days and there was much to accomplish. The first few days, Brandon flew up to join Geoff and I in going through the house. We wanted to spend some time trying to find anything in the house that we might want to keep. So the first morning, we were getting ready to leave for Mom's and Geoff walked outside to find this:
Unbelievable, right? This is the fourth rainbow God has given us as we have journeyed through all this. (The third one, although not posted about here, was last month when Geoff came down to take images of my daughter for the final composite images of the project.) Each time they show up precisely when we are dealing with things regarding the house. The Lord just continues to remind us over and over and over again, at just the right time, that He is faithful. He is present. He is good.
The only thing I knew that might be in the house were some of my mom's rings. But where do you even start looking? In my previous visits I had looked in the places I thought they might be (my mom's dresser & the bathroom) but I had no luck. I had resolved in my heart that it wasn't that big of deal to find them and our main hope was to salvage some photos from our childhood. After a few hours in the house, I left to go nurse my boy and while I was gone, Brandon sent me this picture:
He found the rings! Three emerald rings, her class ring and a necklace that matched a ring of her's that she gave me in high school. It was a set of star saphire stone cufflinks from Japan that my dad had made into a ring and necklace for her. We also found this classy 5" button of New Kids on the Block's Donnie Wahlberg from my first concert.
We did actually find more than I expected...old letters from loved ones, my great grandma's tea cups, Geoff's baseball cards, a tea chest that my grandma had made for my dad when they lived in Japan...
a copy of a 1937 newspaper from when the Hindenburg exploded...
and our old high chair (which I was really tempted to keep and refinish simply because our current wood high chair doesn't have a removable tray like this one does from back in the day).
I also found this picture.
It may seem like an average picture but it was significant because Geoff and I have been trying to piece together when mom's hoarding started. I can't remember the house, as a whole, ever being clean. If I have any memories they are vague and reserved to a specific location in the house and over run by the years of memories of it being a disaster. So finding this picture makes me realize that I was probably at least 4 or 5 when the hoarding started. It may have been starting in some places before that, but at least this shows the living room still orderly.
Anyhow, it was an emotional few days as I expected. Sadness, disgust and sheer anger were mixed with moments of finding things that made us laugh or smile. But in the end I was able to spend some time there by myself bringing some closure. Throughout this process I have been holding to this promise:
The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins.
He will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her.
Thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
And even as I was there in the house, I found this verse to be so fitting:
The desolate land shall be tilled,
that which had laid desolate
in the sight of all who passed by.
What good news that we have the hope of redemption and can trust that the Lord will use not only the house itself, but also that part of our lives, for His glory!
Anyhow, after we spent a few days going through the house, we hired a crew to come and clean it out. It took about 3 1/2 days and they hauled away 8.5 tons of stuff (or 17,000 lbs)! And while that did include the appliances, it didn't include all the furniture. On one day alone they filled 90 contractor size garbage bags and they hauled off four of these trailers.
After it was cleaned out, we had some contractors come, as well as some people that do mold remediation, to give us estimates. The next step will be determining if we are going to sell it 'as is' or fix it up to rent or sell. So while a huge part of the burden is lifted, we still have a mountain in front of us and I know the Lord will continue to give light to our path as we climb it.