While my brother was in town (we had a great visit!), one of the things on our agenda was finally going through our mom’s things. We weren’t sure what we would find. Our parents divorced when I was twelve and we moved out of my childhood home. My mom moved around a lot after that. She was messy and disorganized.
To be honest, I was a little nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect emotionally. It ended up not being as hard as I’d imagined. It actually was kind of fun. I did cry on the drive home – there is something very sad and strange about driving away with tangible evidence of your life before your family fell apart.
The things we found surprised me. There were several figurines that belonged to my grandma Nellie.
I found several pieces of artwork that I made as a child.
Stumbling across my childhood art and handed-down figurines was great, but my favorite part was the pictures we found that I thought were long gone.
I didn’t have a lot of photos of me as a child – and now I do. Not so many as others may have, but enough to tuck into a photo album to show my children one day. The whole experience of going through my dead mother’s things and picking through what I wanted to keep was very strange. It made me sad to think that these things we collect throughout our lives, these precious pieces of jewelry, knickknacks, trinkets, and treasures will one day be sorted into neat little boxes and driven from our homes by our descendents – if we are lucky enough to have descendents who will want them.
I think what made me the saddest of all was that my mother kept all of this stuff. Through all the shit, through all the moving, through all the depression and darkness, she clung to these items from her past. She kept these treasures tucked away in closets while her life spiraled out of control. It would have been easier, I think, to write her off as a hateful person if I hadn’t found these things. I could come to terms saying she never really cared.
These photos, these baubles from the past tell me otherwise. She did care. And that breaks my heart.
My brother and I divvied up her few possessions, and now I have my own little boxes nestled safely in my closet. One day they will belong to my children, but for now, I will keep them safe. Because I guess that’s just what you do.