It’s been six weeks and one day since my mom passed away. The days between her passing and her funeral are a blur and it’s becoming more difficult to remember specifics about the funeral, although I do remember that beautiful moment when everyone in attendance sang together. I don’t think I will ever forget that. Since she was laid to rest in the Confederate Cemetery in Alvin, my sister and I have used every bit of spare time we have between our jobs and family responsibilities to work on clearing out the house in preparation for the next step. Our immediate families have been willing to step in and help out when needed. It has been hard work, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
I may have mentioned in an earlier post that my mom was a clutter bug. A packrat. A not quite ready for primetime hoarder, thank heavens. Compared to what I’ve seen on those programs about hoarders, she was an amateur. And truly — I can see the reasons behind some of the things she kept. What has been really hard for me is the enjoyment that could have been afforded with a little (okay, a lot) of organization. She kept things that were important, but because they were not in easily accessible places — or had been misplaced for such a period of time they’d been forgotten, the potential for enjoyment was lost.
Case in point: I love cookbooks from the mid-century era. Anything from the 50s, 60s, and early 70s captures my attention. So as I was looking through some random papers, booklets, and magazines that had been put in a box at some point in time, I discovered a “Good Housekeeping Cakes” cook booklet, roughly 5 x 8 in size, probably 75 pages max. I flipped through it to see if it was worthy of being added to my collection and on the last page, my mom had managed to type a cake recipe. Keep in mind, this is a stapled booklet, similar to a small magazine. She’d managed to roll that last page into a typewriter (Google it, youngsters, if you don’t know what a typewriter is) without removing the booklet’s staples and typed a cake recipe and frosting recipe.
No big deal except she made the notation “Recipe used for Laura’s 1st Birthday” at the top. And down below, she’d written in her beautiful handwriting, “Made this cake for Angie’s 1st birthday, too.”
I tried not to cry when I thought about how — if the booklet/recipe had been in an easily accessible, logical place, rather than the bottom of a box — how we could have used that same cake recipe to make the first birthday cakes for our children, and what a wonderful tradition that would have been.
I find myself trying not to cry a lot while I’m working there. I’ve brought home tons of photos that need to be organized and shared with my sister and other family members. A friend who is in the process of scanning her family photos left to her by her mother a few years ago said, “Well, at least you got the albums!” Except my mom’s photos never made it into albums. There are dozens and dozens and dozens of envelopes from Eckerds (what CVS used to be called) full of photos that probably haven’t been looked at since the day they were picked up from the photo developer. It wearies me to think of what needs to be done so that the surviving family can enjoy the photos, especially in light of the fact that a large percentage of my own photos are not yet in their albums. I’ve also sorted through hundreds of cards and letters. And that almost sends me over the edge, too. When I realized how multitudinous the cards and letters would be, I made the decision to only keep the letters and cards that had lengthy notes written in them. As I go through and assess whether a letter or card gets to stay, I find myself sniffling at the words of my grandparents (long gone from this world) — I miss them, and I miss my mama.
And I’m weary. But I will keep on doing what needs to be done, and thank the good Lord for the strength He’s giving me from day to day.