OUR OVERHEAD PROBLEM

The most important reason we haven’t moved in over 50 years is because my wife and I love living near Lake Parsippany. We’ve looked at more modern houses but always, instead of a beautiful lake at the end of the street, there was just another row of look-alike modern houses.

The other reason is that there is a higher presence that holds me here. No, it’s not a heavenly mandate, it’s just my attic, my jammed full, heavily loaded attic. If we ever try to sell the house, I’m sure the incoming family will insist we get rid of the overhead tonnage. They’ll need the space to store their useless stuff.

Our attic was almost inaccessible when we first moved in. To store anything I had to stand on a wobbly stepladder, reach up, push aside a small trap door in the hall ceiling and then hurl the item into the dark abyss, rendering it almost irretrievable. Therefore not much got sucked into that little black hole. The garbage can was handier and safer.

I should have left it that way instead of installing one of those pull-down attic ladders with a much larger entrance opening. It was a difficult and scary operation. At one point during the installation, 75 percent of me was in the attic while the other 25 percent, my right leg, had penetrated the hall ceiling and must have looked like a weird chandelier.

The new easy route to the attic was just too much of a temptation for a family of hoarders, used to keeping things that should be dumps-bound. “Well, just for now” was the usual false promise before lugging a chipped bowling ball or an expired hi-fi into the upper reaches. Eventually our four children, all reckless collectors and savers like me, moved out, leaving their many boxes of miscellany behind and above. They’ll never retrieve them. I’m sure their own attics are now filled to the brim.

I’ll have to hire a disinterested, unsentimental professional to remove the junk. This never works as a family project. Every item would have to be studied, its history recited and its disposition debated. “Oh, look, my cheerleader jacket! I wonder if it still fits.” and “Wow! Here’s one of my old skis. The other one is up here someplace. I’ll look in back of those filing cabinets or Grandma’s chifferobe.” And so it would go for hours, reading dusty diaries, passing around the two-string ukulele and hugging battered Teddy Bears and Raggedy Anns.

I’ll just let it be and hope the bowling ball, the hi-fi and the overloaded chifferobe don’t come crashing down into the bedroom some night. On a (hopefully) far distant day, the family will be sitting around the living room talking about the good old days when someone will ask, “So what are we going to do with Dad’s ashes?” Then someone else will make a suggestion and they’ll all agree, “Well, just for now.”

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