Mom’s settling into the nursing home and my sisters have started the long haul of cleaning out the house. Sorting, stacking, settling, packing, throwing, reading, crying. 60+ years of living in the home Mom shared with Dad, the same home he grew up in.
I’m not there, I’m thousands of miles away, and the guilt is palpable. But, so is reality. I could stop what I’m doing and take a week off and dig in too, and guess what, a week is not enough. They work too, so they’re fitting this in as they can. One sister gets it, the other grumbles, and I understand and appreciate both. Again, the guilt …
There are the books, the pots, the pans, the dishes, the china, the crystal, the photographs, the note pads, the junk drawer, the sock drawer, the paper drawer, the plastic drawer. The Christmas ornaments, the treasures, the junk, the furniture, the appliances, the you-name-its. No, a week would hardly be enough.
But, as my sissy has said more than once, the journey has brought moments of awe – a trunk we never knew about, tucked away in a spot we’d long forgotten, filled with our baby outfits – in pristine condition. Shorts, caps and vests for my brothers, yellow and peach dresses for my sisters, and this frothy pink confection for me:
I don’t own pink, haven’t in years. But seeing this photo again let’s me see myself through their eyes.
They also found letters – from Dad to Mom. She had been away visiting a sister and he missed her is all, and “Scout” the dog wasn’t much of a companion. He used words like “my darling,” words I don’t remember hearing him say. I expect he was about this age, or younger, when he wrote to her. And the love and longing in his words transcends time and miles for all of us.
So when I think of them, I think of their date nights, his taking her hand on the dance floor, holding the door and her giggle as she stepped through. I think about the farmer and the teacher who met on a blind date, fell in love, and built a life and family together.
Dad’s been gone 11 years; Mom’s carried on and accepted this new phase in her life. There were many great times, and some that weren’t. But their love stories – those are the keepsakes that remain with me.
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“As long as you remember the person who loved you, and whom you still love, then you’re making love endure.” ― Guillaume Musso
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Have you been far, far away as major life changes took place? What keepsakes are worth keeping?