My dad’s health had declined so suddenly early in 2004 that he couldn’t live alone any longer and my brothers and I were left scrambling to make arrangements for his care. We also had to figure out what to do with his house and all the stuff in it.
The short story is that we shared dad and cared for him as best we could amongst us while we set about cleaning out and selling his house. I don’t remember how many 20-yard dumpsters we’d paid for, but still… my attic ended up filled with dad’s books, mom’s dresses and lots of assorted “stuff” from numerous generations of our family.
I never really dealt with any of that stuff properly. I’m awful about purging my own things, let alone all this sentimental crap… my dad’s high school ring, a letter he wrote from France to my mom while they were engaged, her wedding dress preserved in a fancy cardboard box…
What am I to do with any of this?
Life has found me in a place now that I’m sorting through the collections of a childhood and a marriage: my lifetime so far. Some things are easy to keep and others… pfft! It seems impossible to do anything other than cart them around with me until sometime when I can think more clearly about their meaning and real merit in my future.
I’ve been washing and boxing up my mother’s china and sorting through ridiculous amounts of bird-related-kitsch the last couple weeks. I’ve no idea what to do with the perfectly-preserved wedding dresses worn for two failed marriages, but…
This cookie jar, as awful-looking as it is… I know I want to keep it!
Of course it would be meaningless to anyone else, but I remember it there on the counter above the breadbox in the house I grew up in. It’s one remnant of my childhood… innocent of any guilty feelings and sense of obligation… I see it and think of Scooter Pies and Pecan Sandies.
In the last couple years I’d used this as a treat jar for my bunnies… appropriate, no? It broke at some point recently and my sweet DexH glued it back together for me.
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“My mom” is just an empty title to most people in my life. I have just one friend who remembers her, in fact. It’s 30 years since she passed away when I was 11. I can look at pictures of her and still smell her perfumed hug or remember days at the beach as a kid. There is little in my life, now, to make her a real person. This ugly cookie jar was probably meaningless to her… an empty household piece that once belonged to the most important person in my life.
Despite my inclinations to the contrary, I still hold on tightly sometimes. I still think her stuff is as sacred as my memory of her.
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I wonder what it is that you all have been carting around with you to remember the people that once loved you? A pink trunk full of tattered love letters? A collection of tools? That set of crystal hi-ball glasses you can’t bear to part with, tho you don’t even really know what a hi-ball is?
Do tell, please. Lend me some comfort in my state of overwhelmedness.