Friday, March 25, 2011

Sorting Saturday-Spiders, flooding and moving...oh, my!

Sorting Saturday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites. Any tips on how to go about sorting through a closet or box of stuff, what to do with what you find, organizing, supplies and tools you might need, etc. What about having to clean out a parent’s home once they’ve passed? This is an ongoing series by Michelle Goodrum at Turning of Generations.

We recently moved my 90-year-old mom from Arizona to Virginia to be near family. In a few weeks I'll be visiting my mom and organizing and archiving cartons of photos and memorabilia that we shipped from Arizona and that had been in storage for decades.  It will be a lot of work, but I feel really lucky that we even have these things.  Oh yes, there’s a story here.  A crazy one. (family members you can skip this one--you've probably heard it more than once)

Last November my brother and I made a trip out to start some sorting, organizing and donating.  Upon our return, I planned out the move in detail.  We would arrive back in Arizona on a Sunday and fly out, Mom in tow, on the following Wednesday morning.  It would be hectic, but doable.

We arrived on the scheduled Sunday, the weather was beautiful and we drove out to the White Tanks where my dad’s ashes were scattered.  It was a lovely afternoon.  After dinner I decided we should tackle the cartons of photos and memorabilia.  We kept more than necessary, but both my brother and had trouble what might be special or important for future generations.  We separated the cartons into Keep and Toss.  The keepers went into the walk-in closet and the toss stayed in the hallway.

Then Monday, at 4 am, the fire alarm sounded at my mom's building.  At 4:10, "Mom, is your upstairs neighbor's shower always this loud?"  At 4:15--OMG there's water pouring in around every fire sprinkler head and ceiling fixture opening. Like garden hoses on full blast.  At 4:45 the apartment was in ruins.  We had raced through the apartment grabbing artwork, photos, knick-knacks, a wonderful Kachina collection….Thankfully, the walk-in closet had no ceiling fixture and was the last area to flood.  We managed to save clothes, files and photos.  Everyone was safe, but dazed.

The scoop on what happened--the woman living upstairs is afraid of spiders, thought she saw a tarantula on the ceiling, took a swing at what was actually the fire sprinkler and snapped the head off (making it an open pipe), lost her hold on the cane which flew across the room, knocking a mirror off the wall and the mirror dropped, connecting with an outlet, causing an electrical arc, filling the apartment with smoke.   You can't make this stuff up.

It was pretty crazy.  We originally had a moving company scheduled for the next day and the return flight on Wednesday.  We had to cancel the mover (no furniture to ship) so we had one day to pack and ship everything we had salvaged via UPS (22 large cartons).  Tuesday night ended with the three of us in a hotel near the Phoenix airport putting a  serious dent in a bottle of Southern Comfort that we couldn't ship.

I think I’ll print this out and add it to one of the archive boxes so future genealogists will know how lucky they are.

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