I realize my blog can sometimes carry themes — depending on what I’m experiencing in life.
Loss is the theme for my recent blogs because that is what is consuming my life right now.
Of course you know, my mom died suddenly in March. And while the grief is profound, it is eased by knowing she was ready to go, and that I’ll see her again someday.
A lot of my time since her death has been spent cleaning her house and getting it ready to sell.
It’s been exhausting and sometimes sad, but also it has been tender, therapeutic, memorable, and sweet.
As I’ve stood in each room of that house– steaming off wallpaper or cleaning out cupboards, I’ve been swept up in a lifetime of memories.
There is a memory in every corner of that house.
It’s hard for me to believe that Doug lived in 18 different homes before graduating from high school.
I lived in the same home until I went to college and I’ve been returning to that home ever since.
Standing in the small upstairs bedroom, I remembered being in first grade and learning to read. I thought of the thrill I felt running upstairs to sit in my bedroom with a new stack of books.
I remembered going to the public library with my mom every week and gathering armloads of books and hauling them upstairs to that bedroom.
That reminded me of returning mom’s last library book just after she died. I knew I had to get it back to the library as soon as possible! She never, ever had an overdue book.
Cleaning out her kitchen cupboards, I thought about her love of dishes. She had her own wedding china, a great grandmother’s china, and various sets of dishes she had purchased over the years.
I remembered the “club” meetings she had with her high school friends and how she pulled out the china for some of those dinners. Then, I remembered that for one Easter, she had a brown bag picnic lunch in the house and moved all the furniture back and put quilts on the floor. I tried to imagine her 12 lady friends sitting in circles on the floor enjoying their brown bag Easter picnic.
In the kitchen, I remembered Mom’s reaction when she found a Playboy magazine in one of my brother’s dresser drawers. Oh, that was a classic Mom Moment. You can check out that story here.
While sorting through her Christmas decorations on the patio, I looked around at her sprawling back yard and remembered how many parties I held back there over the years.
I could hear her saying, “You always begged me to host your friends’ last-night-of-school parties in the backyard, and you swore you’d only have about six friends coming. And, every year, the whole school showed up!”
It’s true. I couldn’t help myself. I invited every friend I had every year. It was the perfect backyard for big parties!
That house was my mom’s “corner of the world.” She always said she just loved sitting on the porch watching the world go by.
She was a homebody if there ever was a homebody and she never understood what she called my “go-go-do-do” ways.
Nate Berkus said, “Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love.”
My mom lived by those words.
Her house was a collection of everything she loved –cherished notes, her life story in a scrapbook, stories, family memorabilia, photos, photos and more photos, flowers, and plants, books, books and more books; and more thread than I’ve ever seen in my life for her embroidery projects. She loved decorating for every holiday, especially Christmas. I think I counted five Christmas trees!
She had some of her favorite quotes in places where she could see them regularly.
One of her favorite quotes that has become one of my favorites was a quote from Ezra Taft Benson:
More than anything else, cleaning out her house has been like a gradual, tender goodbye.
I have felt wrapped up in her “corner of the world” for the past couple months — folding her quilts, steaming her wedding dress, discovering the baby quilts she made for her future great grand babies, dusting off her dishes and boxing up her china, sorting out her Christmas tree ornaments and collecting her mail.
It’s been like a slow goodbye and while it’s been tiring, it’s been kind of a sweet melancholy, a last chance to feel her around me through her perfectly personal home, and all of her belongings.
The more I take out of her house, the more I realize she is gone.
And, while I don’t enjoy the goodbye, I certainly savor the way that cleaning out her house has kept her here for just a little bit longer…