Suddenly, he turned on me.
"You don't think I can do it, do you?"
I thought about that for a moment. "I think you could do it for the stuff you KNEW about," I said honestly.
He nodded soberly, and we sat for a moment in silence.
At that very moment, a moving van filled with over 20,000 CDs, DVDs, Video tapes, Laser Discs, and even old LP record albums was headed to our already packed house to divest itself of its contents therein.
The reason for this was simple. My Great Uncle, who for years had been promising Dad his record, CD, and DVD collection, had finally decided that he wanted to live in the nursing home, and preferred not to return to his own house with live-in care. At first, he could talk of nothing but "getting out of this place," but as time went by, and we worked to find him appropriate medical care so that he could go home and live out his final years in a place of his own, he became more and more enamored of the nursing home environment.
Now, say what you like about nursing homes. Most of them are horrible, terrible places. Even the best of them (and he was in the best) are often simply places to warehouse your inconvenient elderly to the maximum profit of the home owners and shareholders. But the nursing home had one thing that Uncle's house did not: people.
Why, he could press a button and have a nurse come to his room at any hour of the day or night. He could go to dinner with other people and impress them with his PhD and his knowledge of history, culture, and the arts. He could just wander out into the hall and talk to anyone who came by, or he could shut himself up in his room for those times he wanted privacy. Plus, he felt comfortable that there were medically trained people about who could take care of him if he fell, accidentally ripped out his catheter (which he'd been known to do), or otherwise had problems.
We worked hard to get him home when that's what he wanted, but when he decided to stay there -- well. What was important to us was that Uncle be able to live his life how, and where, he wanted. He wanted the nursing home, so that's what he got.
If he changes his mind, we'll still be there to get him out, but for now, he's pretty much decided to stay. After making this decision, though, he started to worry about all his things in his house. The more he thought about it, the more he became sure that his house would burn down and all his things would be lost and Dad would never get his record collection!
This was simply unacceptable to him, and he brooded and agonized over it before finally deciding that he didn't want to leave this stuff to Dad when he died: he wanted him to have it now. Take it, take it out of his house, take all of it!
Now, when ordinary people say they have "a record collection," you might think they have -- oh -- 50 or 100 or even a few hundred records. A video collection is the same way.
Uncle's collection, however, was more like the contents of about three or four whole video stores.
Plus the warehouse.
Plus another several thousand pieces.
See, one of the things he would do would be to look for socialization. Just people to talk to, you know? He'd lived with his mother most of his life, and when she passed away in 1983, he'd been alone. He was lonely, so he'd go out to the record stores, or the video stores, or what have you, and start chatting with the people working there. Of course, he'd feel that he had to buy something, so he would.
He was once on a list with one local video store that whatever they got a copy of, he wanted a copy of as well.
He'd buy 5 - 8 copies of his favorites, in case they wore out or developed a flaw.
So, what it boiled down to is that there was approximately half of an eighteen-wheeler giant moving van FULL of records, DVDs, CDs, video tapes, laser disks, LPs, and God knows what. (My Dad used to joke, "When Uncle dies, he says I get everything round.")
We definitely had a problem. You see, Dad has his own collections. He's got comic books, video tapes, pulp magazines from the 40's -- tons of stuff. Not to mention me -- I've got books, and comic books (nothing on Dad, though) and clothes, and if I've ever thrown anything away since 1992, it was only because it was pulled forcibly out of my hands while I kicked, and screamed, and shrieked, and moaned "My preciousss! Not the PRECIOUSSSSSS!!!" Or ... something.
The point is, Dad's den and pretty much every room of the house was already packed full of, well, stuff. There was no way we were going to get over 23 filing cabinets plus boxes of stuff into this house without piling things up on the pool table, the loveseat, the chairs, the dining room table, and perhaps even the aquariums!
There was no way ... except for Dad's super-power.
[to be continued]