Posted by: Bonnie Anderson | March 13, 2012

This Post is Harmless and Has No Expiration Date

“I hold on to things, because as soon as you throw them away, that’s when you need them.”  This is a quote from my father-in-law and it really explains a lot.  Since my mother-in-law passed away in January of last year, we have made four trips to Maryland.  During these trips we have gone through just about every nook and cranny of the house where Bob’s family lived for 53 years.  During that time, I believe his parents lived by those words.  I’m thinking about doing them in needle point.

I have yet to share with you the funny things we have discovered as we cleaned, sorted and organized their stuff, but I think it’s time. One of the earliest clues that we would find unknown treasure here was the day of the funeral.  Dad asked my son, Joe, to get the shoe shine kit and shine his shoes for him.  That’s when we discovered the loaded gun – literally.  Joe pulled out old, hard shoe polish, well-worn brushes and a pistol worthy of Barney Fife.  We even found a bullet to put in our pocket.

Bob’s dad told us we could not get rid of it because (you know) “as soon as you throw it away, that’s when you’ll need it.”  We argued that it was a bad idea for him to even think of defending himself with a gun as his eyesight is something like 20/4000 and he could easily mistake his target for a predator when it was only the homeless guy who lives in the basement (that’s for another blog).  But as he took the gun in his hands and we all hit the ground, we knew he had no intention of getting rid of it.  Thankfully, there was enough going on that day to distract him from his sharp shooting exhibition and we were able to put the gun in a safe place.

We also found seemingly harmless things, I think.  I like to make a game out of things as we do a project and one of the games I created for this one was “Find the Oldest Medication Expiration Date.”  I had a distinct advantage in this game as I was the one who cleaned out my in-laws’ bedroom dressers.  Let me tell you, it was a gold mine!

I found stuff that should have been thrown out before the birth of my youngest child in May of 1987.  Surely there is a collector of expired, potentially hazardous ointments out there somewhere!

Expired Between 1985 and 1988. The Winner: NP27, expired 12/85

I also found a little calendar that tells you the day on any date between 1952 and 1979.  That means it was manufactured at least in 1951 so this is the clear winner in the “This Can’t Kill You” category.  I did hold on to that one.  It’s pretty unique and besides, you never know when you might need it.



  1. Oh my, this was hysterically funny my friend – I’ve got to tweet and share! This made my day!!!

    • Thank you, Tor. You are such an encourager.

  2. Did I tell you my inlaws are moving to an assisted living or something like that next week.They have been cleaning out their town house , making several trips to the dump,Salvation Army and relatives. All by themselves they decided to do this !
    Are you impressed? jealous maybe??
    We will make a trip when they are settled. :-Q

    • Wow! Yes, I’m impressed, jealous – all of the above. What a blessing for you guys that they are doing this. I hope they’ll be happy in their new place.

  3. I still have mine, too! It helps find salient days in my friends’ lives….
    Thanks for the reminder of how foolish some of my practices are! (I still have articles and research summaries about developments that I completed 3 and 4 decades ago. (OK. So, when I’m dead and famous, they’ll be able to stock the museum with them :-)… Collections from the deranged is the running title…)

    • Ha, ha, ha, Roy. I love your working title – you may be on to something here.

  4. LOL – literally! So funny, I think probably more so because we’ve been in your shoes several times. And, it’s so true. And, Moggie, I must confess, when I read your comment I was a little jealous too. 😉

    • I think of you and Jim often, Ann. I still don’t think I have a clue as to all you did for your parents and others. Mine is a small picture comparitively. Love you.

  5. i am sitting here in pure amazement 😀

    just read a magazine article about “people who throw things away and people who collect”
    your father in law would fit well to the mother of the author who was never allowed to throw away a pot without handles.

    that calender could be a piece for a museum ;D

    • Thank you for your kind comment. Even though it is an enormous job going through so much stuff, we do come up with some treasures that are little pay days along the way.

  6. I remember NP27! I haven’t seen that in about 30 years when my dad used it! =) So hilarious!!

    • Wow! It’s funny how something can take you back.

  7. Hopefully you come across some family heirlooms that haven’t expired LOL! I wish my dad had saved something–anything. I don’t think there’s a sentimental bone in his body. I’d love to have some of my childhood toys back–at least for the collector’s value!

    Thanks for sharing your treasure hunting story with us 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Jenny. I hadn’t thought about what it would be like if the opposite were true. Thanks for that perspective. Not saving anything would be easier but certainly a little sadder, too.

  8. Good blog, but you barely hit the tip of the iceberg. Remember the DDT that Aaron found in Dad’s workshop?

    I’m gathering energy for the last half of April. Cleaning out the basement (including the homeless guy) will be a real challenge!

    • I didn’t know about the DDT but I can’t say that I’m surprised. I know you have your work cut out for you at Dad’s next month. I wish we could come and help but it’s just not possible this time. I have scheduled nothing for April to be available for Dena. She is going to need a little more help this time around. We sure appreciate your willingness to cut through the basement.

  9. Great story! And I thought my medications were out of date! 🙂

    • Thanks, Valerie, and you’re not kidding! I’m glad we were able to throw those things away for him.

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