Friday, we drove to Port Orchard and unloaded Mom’s room. One of the few good things out of this entire saga is that she progressively downsized over the years. While still living in Portland, Mom downsized to a two-bedroom condo. When she moved to Shelton, she downsized yet further to a two-bedroom duplex. When she moved to the VA home in October, she downsized to one room, allowed only a wing chair, an ottoman, a few pictures, some jewelry, knickknacks and clothes. Visitors provided a few plants. Clearing out her room took less than an hour, a piece of mercy in all of the sadness.
My brother and I reminisced about the different men she got dated but never married. Some we liked, specifically Rick. He was the funniest man I’d ever met. I think I was 9 at the time. He knew Gary Larson personally. He brought us cookies and made us all laugh. We urged Mom to marry him. But he had no plans to be tied down.
. There were other prospective spouses along the way but nobody stuck.
It’s funny how you remember yourself in the context of time. But not just time, in the context of others and seasons. Looking back, I can see that just as God’s hand helped keep us afloat, He also kept us out of bad situations. While ‘no’ at the time felt hard, it was for our good. Rick went on to have 6 heart attacks when he finally did marry. Not surprisingly, he lost his sense of humor along the way.
Another good thing out of Mom’s death is the tribe of women who have surfaced to guide me through the grief. These women have all lost their mothers, too, and know firsthand how hard it can be. I did not ask for help; they have come all on their own, and I am grateful. Alongside them are family and old friends who have listened and been there. Thank you, thank you. I have not walked this way before and it’s been a struggle. Grief washes over me like a sneaker wave as I walk the beach of loss. Your support has made all the difference.
Years ago, Aunt Susan made me a stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh. I took that bear to college with me, much to the hilarity of subsequent fellow dorm dwellers. I still have it.
Aunt Susan gave me the pouch pictured above when she came to see Mom. Inside the pouch were 2 embroidered hankies and assorted chocolate.
“You don’t have to share it with anyone”, she told me.
All of these people who have shown up and been there have put me a metaphorical ‘pocket’ for safekeeping, something you do for cherished items – and people. I know hard days lie ahead, but I feel surrounded by love and sympathy and am focusing on the sweet memories.