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  • Writer's pictureToni O'Connor

The House that P. Allen Smith Built

You may not know who P. Allen Smith is. He is a gardening enthusiast and has (or had) a gardening show for years. My mother watched it religiously. Mind you, she hasn't done much in the way of gardening herself in the past five years or so. She did still put in green onions, green peppers and tomatoes, or at least the neighbors did that for her these past few years.

In October of 2018, Mom had a mild heart attack with sepsis, dehydration and mild pneumonia brought on by a severe urinary tract infection. The doctors told her that she could no longer live alone. She stayed in her home long enough to have about three weeks of PT and home nursing care, then she came 300 miles northeast to live with us. Mom is 94. Besides the fact that I am caring for her, Adrian still has squamous cell tumors that pop up on his head and neck that have to be cut out. And then radiated. We are on day nine of the third round of radiation, but I digress.

So besides earning my LPN through experience, I have to try to get the house I grew up in cleaned out. My mother was a child of the Great Depression (which may or may not explain some things.) Most of them have a real reluctance to throw anything away. "You might need it someday!" is the cry. So this house is pretty much stuffed to the ceilings.

About a month after my mother came here to live, three of my good friends here in the area convinced me it would be a good idea for them to come and help me start the process. Boy, were they in for a treat. We took two SUV's and started our road trip.

When we got there, we pretty much started right away. These three are ruthless with their discards! I had prepared them for what was to come, but the thing they were REALLY shocked about was how many VHS video tapes my mother had. They were all taped from the television and the majority of them were gardening shows. Mostly P. Allen Smith. The TV stand had a fairly substantial amount of storage under it and on the side were tapes stacked on top of each other and behind each other and in any available space. My friend Judy remarked, "Gee, your mom has a lot of tapes". Oh, girl, you ain't seen nothin' yet!"

A black 40 gallon garbage bag was soon filled, Then I directed them to the actual VHS cabinet on the other side of the family room. They were astounded. Another black garbage bag and a call to me in another room, "I'm finished with the tapes." Oh, no you aren't," I thought. I appeared in the family room and opened the doors to the china cabinet. What? There are more? These did not quite fill a garbage bag. After the china cabinet and a drawer in the hutch, I led them to my brother's room. There is an old doorway there that used to go to the outside. When our addition was built, that door was blocked off, but in my brother's room they left the doorway and added shelving. Guess what was on them? More tapes. So the previous unfilled bag was filled and another black bag was added. Even I thought we were finished that time.

The next day, as I was working on the desk in my brother's room, there was a huge box I pulled out from the knee-hole along with a smaller box at the foot of the bed. You guessed it! P. Allen Smith and the Squarefoot Gardener. Judy about fainted. We filled 5 or 6 40 gallon black garbage bags with only tapes made at home. The only Hollywood purchase we found was ELF. Mom just loves that movie. She has already had me DVR it here.

Between all the VHS tapes and the paper in the house, (think cancelled checks from 1948-I am not kidding), we took just under a ton of stuff to the landfill in two days. If you tell her, I will deny it! She thinks everything is in my storage unit here.

And I haven't even LOOKED in the basement yet...just sayin'.

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