Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sharing My Mom

I know it's been a while since my last post.  Here's why!

A month after my mom died, I received marching orders from Pop to clear her things. At the time, this meant to both of us her clothes and personal belongings. And so I did, and believed we'd cleared her things.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year and my “in your face” revelation we'd not even scratched the surface of “clearing” her things. Closets full of floral arrangements, luggage, prints, Santa Claus and snowman collectibles, chotzies and other things. Shelves filled with plastic bins of sewing threads, tools, fabrics, craft supplies for crocheting, cross-stitching, ceramic painting, Christmas ornaments. Walls covered in beautiful decorative wreaths she designed herself. Plastic bins filled with grapes, silk flowers, and floral arranging materials, more fabric, and seashells. Department 56 houses and every accessory imaginable on shelves. Cabinets filled with votive holders, potpourri, and home décor items. Canning jars, freezer containers, lids, canning pots and cookers and tools, oh my! I chuckled at my and my dad's naivete in believing we'd “taken care of all her belongings” after her transition!
I'm not sure Dad is completely ready to sell their place yet, but when he is, I realized I didn't all these beautiful things of my mom's to be insensitively handled in an Estate Auction. These things, her belongings, she gave great care and concern before purchasing; much time, energy and consideration was invested by mom before before buying something. I knew mom wouldn't want these beautiful, high-end things (she had some excellent taste) to collect dust, sit hidden in closets, and be randomly thrown into a box to be sold at a chaotic Estate Auction. I knew Dad wouldn't get a fair price on these things this way, so I decided needed to do right by mom and hold an Estate sale.

My dad calls my mom a “collector.” My brother calls her an “organized hoarder.” I believe my mom had ambitious dreams of being Martha Stewart. Mom had big plans for her time in retirement but cancer stole that time from her. Mom didn't collect just to have it; she collected because these things touched her soul, resonated with a poor little girl who admired from afar pretty things. She also had big plans to decorate the house in great style. Mom did collect Dickens and New England villages, Santas and snowmen. And my brother was right; she was very organized. My dad shook his head repeatedly in disbelief at all I pulled out for the Estate Sale.

You think you know someone, but go through their belongings, and you get to know someone a little deeper. I knew mom loved shopping, but only until I begin organizing her things for the sale did I realize how big her dreams were, and what incredible tastes she had. In hindsight, I realize I took for granted her excitement about her plans and many interests. Despite the fact we talked every single day by phone for several years, I didn't understand this facet of her. What didn't I know?

I didn't know she practiced crocheting or she was teaching herself. I didn't know she was nostalgic as I perused newspapers and magazines saved about Hurricane Betsy that we were in, or Mardi Gras she attended in 1965, or when Elvis, JFK, and Reagan died, the flood of Daviess County in 1997, the tornado that hit Owensboro, or 9/11 happened. I found a tub full of my baby clothes, including the onesies, little dresses I wore as a toddler and even into the first few years of elementary school, and the baby clothing hangers. I didn't know mom had done so much floral work, twenty arrangements in all not counting the wreaths.

Mom was poor growing up and when she had the money in later years, she spent it on nice things she enjoyed. She loved shopping for it, having it, and displaying it. Mom loved to learn new things, a trait of hers which I take after, and she had a creative side that was expressed in her home decorating, the holidays, and her flower gardens.

As I pulled things out, organized, and priced items over a two month period, I experienced another level of grief. I ached for her, so I could enjoy those things with her. Everything I touched held her energy; I felt her constantly throughout this process. She talked to me as I contemplated prices; she giggled when I cursed her each time I found more stuff. And I cried several times as the Estate Sale approached. I fretted I'd no longer feel mom without these things in the house, but realized my mom wasn't these things; they simply reflected who she was. I felt grateful I got to know this part of her through this process.

In the days leading up to the Sale, I felt concern I would lose it as people walked out with mom's things. I meditated around this and realized mom wouldn't want her beautiful creations and things sitting in a closet collecting dust! She enjoyed them, and she'd want others to enjoy them too! I took great comfort in this knowledge, and as the Sale took place, my heart comforted as everyone demonstrated awe over the beautiful things. People who bought floral arrangements, Dept. 56 houses, her collectibles, etc. showed respect and admiration for them, which warmed my heart a part of mom's energy was bringing joy to others. I know my mom felt full of pride somewhere above that this facet of who she was, her legacy, would carry on bringing joy to others lives.

No comments: