Sunday, April 25, 2010


I am about to head off to the three storage units to spend my second Sunday in a row in false, florescent lighting, stale air and dust going through Mother's things.  The house is in chaos, having still not folded in all the items we brought back from last Sunday.  It's almost like a reality show contest where it's things trying to make the cut, not people.  The boxes that make the first cut are brought back to the house and then have to be gone through again, and I have a giant trash bag and a Goodwill box filling up behind me.  The fifty duplicate photos of me in the seventh grade, for instance, definitely made it into the trash.  I begrudgingly kept one of the pasty faced, limp haired, polyester ridden youngster because I thought Marissa might get a kick out of seeing it.  But, in general, only a very few precious items will make it into the house already jammed with items from Greg's family home, Kelsey's fledging independence that never really took flight, and items from my home back in Montana that Mother never did have room for.  Somewhere in all of that we have accumulated our own stuff.  When I think about selling the house and fleeing from here, which I do often, I despair at what it would take to pack it all up and actually move with it.  Yet, yesterday when I met Marissa's boyfriend at the storage to have him hopefully take some of it off my hands, I felt vaguely guilty for being so anxious to part with the things that made up Mother's home.

These are the things that made up her life:  that horrid purple and green chair, that heavy blonde colored bedroom set with the Formica top that hailed from a time before I was born and was old and ugly in my estimation long before now.  The stereo cabinet that we once thought was so awesome and state of the art, but has only been used as a table top for years and years to hold Mother's boombox.  The World's Best Grandma mug that I had Kelsey give her one Mother's Day, the Steeler insulated jug that Mother kept with her constantly full of water.  The ten million straws and paper plates that made me cringe to think of the environmental nightmare I was creating by throwing them away.  These were all pieces of her and were important to her.  These are the things that defined her to an extent.  Of course, I know that the force of her personality was what really defined her and what I will remember her by, but there are tidbits of her life that she kept as reminders of the places she had been and the things that she had experienced that I feel torn about what to do with.  They mean nothing to me, really, but they did to her.  For instance, on a piece of Ohio Valley Memorial Hospital stationery I found her carefully handwritten rules of the base golf course.  She had a famous story she liked to tell about her forays into golf on that course:  she signed up to take lessons and would say that she was so awful that after two of them the golf pro committed suicide.  Then, after a carefully timed pause, she would crack her devilish smile and clarify that he did actually kill himself, but it had nothing to do with her.  Nonetheless, she never golfed again.  Yet, she kept those rules in what I'm calling the Money Box of momentoes.

She had an ornate box full of the photos and things that were most precious to her and it was in there.  Along with a parking ticket with a man's name written on the back.  What was that all about?  Was the man handsome maybe, and did they have an impromptu flirtation right there at her illegally parked car?  All these intriguing mysteries mixed in with a dozen pair of slippers by the same company in different colors, and every recipe ever published.  So, do I keep the little red parking ticket, never knowing why she did, or does it go in that big trash bag behind me?  For now, I'm keeping it. 

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