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April 23, 2016: Memory, Memoir, Memorabilia, and Mother

El and I started cleaning the garage today – she had recently remarked that mother didn’t have boundaries, as was indicated by the fact that her material possessions were all over the place. It might also be said that El’s boundaries were somewhat permeable because she allowed for this to happen.

She allowed for her house and garden to become filled with items that first belonged to mother and became hers. The material items in the closet include coats, shoes, scarves, hats. The material items in El’s front window include glass paperweights. The material items in the

garage include Christmas bric a brack. The material items on El’s walls include mom’s artwork, a beautiful needlepoint of a tree included.

There was more, that which we packed up when we were at Pacifica. This stuff is in cardboard boxes.

There is a flat screen television. It’s now mine. I also acquired my mother’s watch and a glass paperweight – one with a clear flower. El is planning to give the more colorful ones to mother’s friends.

Mother’s walker has already gone to Goodwill, as have her purple sneakers, sweaters, tee shirts, and sweat plants.

Watching El sort through stuff made me feel really sad – not sad enough to burst into tears, but just plain sad. I am not allowing myself to grieve – I am feeling like I still in a manner of speaking, need to prop Eleanor up.

As with death, the parting of the ways with possessions was not as bad as I thought it would be – I’d been dreading this since I was a teenager. This is because most of what my mother and father owned before they parted company fell by the wayside in repeated moves. This included my sister and my twin beds, a rooster painting, the sideboard, a family rocking chair. These items were a small bit of stability in innumerable moves. There were also wall paper block carvings – I don’t know what became of any of these things. Mother did hang on to a lot of stuff, but left much of it behind when she moved from Rochester to Portland in 1982.

I will return home to Alaska with a few mementos – like the Stuttgart market scene illustration that my parents brought back with them from Germany after I was born. I also will return with my mother’s watch, and as well, two sketch pads with our drawings in them.

One of the last things mother said to me was that her watch was to be mine. It’s an old lady watch with an old lady band. Plus the narrow gold and silver flex band is too large for my wrist– but so what. It’s the very good thought that counts.

Sorting through possessions is an integral part of the life and death process. And at some point, those who are left behind must deal.

I could go on and on about what’s left – for many years, mother was into painting ceramics. Some items that are around here are bread and butter dishes, a Helen of Troy horse, and a large gray and white sun that is hanging on El’s garage door. Mother is here in what she left behind, for sure.

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