Monday, September 9, 2013

An Ode to Stuff

 Last I posted, I was on my way to New York to go through my parents' apartment with my Dad and help him move what he wanted, take what Florian and I and my sister wanted, and designate the rest for donation. 

So the past month has been devoted to going through old photos and knick knacks and art supplies, old curios and collectibles and kitchenware, albums and scrap books and thank you letters, notes, and postcards sent by friends and family since the 1950s. 

There's the furniture, some of which I kept. Like the old desk that my Mom loved, where she used to sit in the evenings paying bills and making her lists.

That desk was the setting for one of my all-time favorite Mom moments, when I was in the rocking chair next to her, at age 15 or so, and lamenting how difficult it was to write a thank-you note to my grandmother after Christmas. 

My Mom looked at me, her eyes went Heavenward, her shoulders slumped, and in that scathing, exasperated voice she reserved for her kids at their most moronic, she said "You IIIIIIIDIOT!," a statement I will never forget for how it captured my mom's unique brand of love.

I'm glad I have that desk. I am using it to organize my own thank you cards and stationary, and maybe someday I can get Florian to lovingly berate me into sending them. 

I also saved a really nice loveseat, that is less spacious for the dogs but more elegant. Fozzie finds it perfect for taking a bit of Me time, you know, those moments when a dog bed just won't do.

As I have written before, my mom was incredibly artistic and creative. So there are her ornaments and trees and angels that she made every Christmas, 

as well as the hollowed-out eggs she decorated in incredible detail for Easter. 

Of course I kept all of those. Maybe at some point I'll have a holiday benefit auction, so friends can go home with something beautiful and the proceeds will go to the shelter or some other worthy cause Mom supported. Mom would like that. 

There are the albums from my parents' wedding, scrapbooks from when me and my brothers and sister were kids, sepia-toned photos of relatives from both sides of the family. 

I am actually finding it enjoyable to go through it all, to sit at home with the dogs and when I get emotional about a picture of my mom in her wedding dress, know that Fozzie will be there in a flash, his velvety head under my armpit and his hot, foul-smelling breath  enveloping me in a comforting miasma. 

A couple of weeks ago I started dreaming of my mom. The first couple of dreams were of her absence, but though she was gone I was in the ocean or in the forest, surrounded by friends, playful animals, nature, people who reminded me of her. 

In the most recent one, she was walking out ahead of me, strong, almost skipping, happy to be alive. 

The message I think is that all the things I miss and love about my mom--the kinship with nature and animals and family, the joy in life and the feeling of utter acceptance--are still present in the world and accessible to me. 


  1. My prayers cont. for you all. What a treasure your Mom was - and still is. I really like the idea of a holiday gift auction to benefit a shelter or a favorite Mom charity. After my dad died and the house sold, I was able pay some bills, but didn't pay all. With some proceeds, I did what we had always dreamed of doing after winning the lottery (for which neither of us ever buy tickets): I wrote donation checks and told the recipients why - that this was on behalf of my deceased father. He loved it and so will your Mom.

  2. Kirsten, this is the loveliest post. I love what you say, "The message I think is that all the things I miss and love about my mom--the kinship with nature and animals and family, the joy in life and the feeling of utter acceptance--are still present in the world and accessible to me." That is probably the most beautiful and profound statement I have ever heard about the loss of a loved one. I will keep this in my heart. My thoughts and love are with you.

  3. What a touching post. It must have been so difficult to go through all her stuff but how wonderful to treasure her special things. You are in our thoughts!

  4. I love this post and your thoughts. Most of all, I love the wedding picture. When I look at pictures of my parents (now both deceased for more than 20 years), I imagine someone looking at mine one day when I'm gone (unless they all get tossed in the fire since I have no children ;) Life passes and moves on so very quickly. Hugs X

  5. I've only had to do this once, sort out a dearly loved person's life's treasures. I found it a very bittersweet experience. Your Mum will know the things she loved are in the best hands, as is your Father :) I think your last dream was her telling you that she's OK and happy with how things are going.

  6. My sister and I believe when we dream a passed love one it is their way of visiting us. What lovely treasures you have of your mom.


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