A few weeks ago, we moved my older sister out of the apartment she and Mom shared for the past 3 years. Mom died this past December. Robin didn’t really need that second bedroom, and the rent was higher than she could really afford. So,we helped her get settled down the road in a one bedroom apartment.
In 2015, Robin quit her job in Virginia and came back home to Connecticut to move in with Mom. Mom had been living in Florida, but her health was declining and we kids convinced her to come back to New England to be near us. Robin has a background in nursing, so she was a wonderful caretaker to Mom. Also, it was nice to have most of us together again in one area after many years of living in separate states.
A life time of memories wouldn’t all fit into the apartment we had found for Mom and Robin in 2015, so many of the items from Mom’s house in Florida went into storage at my other sister’s house.
After Mom died we all went to work on packing up her things and deciding what to do with everything. I can’t explain what it’s like to look at even the most ordinary things like her purse and its contents, and be conflicted as to what to do with it. The lipstick she had just used. The book she had been reading. Her eyeglasses. Every item we touched reminded us of Mom.
And as we dug deeper into the back of Mom’s closet and into the storage area, things came spilling out that opened up a flood gate of memories from my childhood.
I found my baby book. I hadn’t seen that since before Mom moved to Florida. I spent a lot of time looking through it. Reading the baby cards our family and neighbors from our old neighborhood sent. I found my old report cards…reminding me that, no, I never did need to use that geometry Mr. Grant. Thanks for the “D.” I also found another report card from my beloved 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Rund. She and I recently reconnected on Facebook, and it’s such a joy to know her as an adult and tell her how much she influenced me.
And, surprisingly, I found other snippets of my life I didn’t expect. My baby bracelet from the hospital. Envelopes with locks of my hair labelled in Mom’s handwriting that said, “Jenny’s first haircut, 1967.” My baby teeth. My high school graduation program. My first published articles I ever wrote as a journalism student in college. My wedding announcement. Invitations to our children’s 1st birthday parties. Thank you notes from our daughters for Christmas presents, birthday presents, and graduation presents.
Looking through my mother’s collection, I re-lived my entire life. It was incredible to go through it all. And I’m still not through it all. There was a box for each of my siblings and I. And their lives were cherished in just the same way Mom had preserved mine.
What is the beat up trinket? It is a Christmas angel that somehow survived from Christmas’ from at least 50 years ago. I remember it so well. It was one of three. My mother used to put them around our nativity set. They weren’t a part of the set. They were just some random holiday item she had acquired…and for some reason she saved. I played with this angel when she had a pretty pink face and it immediately brings me back to our house on Diana Lane when I was a little girl.
Mom was a practical woman. We knew in our hearts that she would want us to donate her clothes, everyday furniture, cookware and knickknacks to Goodwill or to our church for someone to get good use out of. She knew that we would know the family keepsakes to pass down like the china, the silver and the jewelry. But the other ordinary day things were much harder to part with.
This was the first Mother’s Day with out Mom. This is a difficult year of a lot of “firsts.” We made it through her birthday. I made it through mine. The holidays will be hard. We miss her. We’ll continue to miss her. Mom loved being our Mom and our Grandma Lee. She kept things for us to find that would remind us of that. She loved all the little things in life. As well as the big ones.
I hope that the things I leave behind someday will reflect that same thing and mean as much to my children.
I have joined an online challenge by Amy Johnson Crow to write about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. I’m so far behind it isn’t even funny. But Amy says it’s not about keeping up. It’s more important to just try to get these stories out of your brain and onto paper. I’m writing about the prompt “Mother’s Day.” You can join any time and find all the details here: