1) As most people know by now, night before last my mother died in the middle of the night, and I have returned home for the funeral, and to start dealing with all the possessions. I don’t want to intrude on the privacy of anyone in my family at such a sensitive time, so while they’re very much a part of what’s going on right now in my life, what I’m writing here concerns just me.
2) Since I got home yesterday evening, in the midst of all the planning, texting, calling, emailing, and talking with family, neighbors, friends, etc., every object in this house has looked at me as if to say “Do you remember my origin? Do you remember why I’m important? What are you going to do with me?”
2a) And this is really the objects of two households, because there are so very many things here from Gramma and Uncle Bill’s house, too.
3) I’d say eight times out of ten I can answer those first two questions with “Yes and yes.”
There’s the little alabaster urn full of beach stones that Mother brought back from Mexico in 1971, but without the one piece of beach glass because when Mother realized it was glass she thought it was unimportant and threw it away.
There’s the rosewood walking stick Gramma bought me at the antique expo that I used as a prop in The Visions of Simone Machard after I sprained my ankle on Dance Day senior year at Interlochen.
There’s Great-Gramma Houska’s Windsor rocking chair that Gramma used to keep in her guest room.
There’s the gigantic mirror from the dining room at Aunt Kate and Aunt Lal’s house on Moss Street, which does not have the original mirror glass in it because Mother thought it looked too smoky with age, but I wanted her to keep the original glass because that was what made it so special.
There’s the plate Mother painted in that china-painting class.
There’s that Brykkestynne alarm clock thingy I gave Daddy that one Christmas that goes off every day at 8:15 or so and no one can figure out how to stop it.
There’s the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia that Cousin Susan gave us all after her stay at our Toledo Bend camp when I was in 8th grade.
There’s the sampler Gramma made that used to hang in her kitchen: “No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best.”
There’s that wooden casket I would pretend contained the diamonds from The Three Musketeers.
There’s Art Treasures of the Louvre, which was so, um, inspiring, when I was a teenager.
There’s this, there’s that, there’s the other.
4) And this does not even encompass photographs. We had to go through quite a lot to find photos for the funeral home to make a slide show, and that’s a rabbit hole you could fall into and never climb out of.
5) At one time in my life I was very much “Feed me all the things!” And now, much, much less so. I may love a thing, its associations, its colors, its purpose - but do I need it? Can I use this thing, or is my desire for it just an impulse borne from a need not to “lose” a home?
6) The other side of the question is pondering what will need to leave my Boston home before anything arrives from here. What needs to go, and how do I get rid of it? What vision do I have for my life in a post-parental world?
7) Am I thinking about things to avoid thinking about other things?!
7a) Gurrrrrllllllll, I think we know.
7b) Perhaps that could be my memoir: A Life in Objects.
8) Just now I started a load of laundry in the utility room and took the time to glance at the vastness of Mother’s sewing supplies. I don’t think she ever threw out a dress pattern, button, or spool of thread. And that’s just one example.
9) I remember, I remember, I remember, I remember.
10) I never lived in this house - Mother and Daddy built this after I’d moved to Boston permanently - but it was their home 33 years, the longest of anyplace they’d ever lived. Almost everything in it, for me, has its story, no matter how brief. How do I honor that and, perhaps, let it go?