Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mother’

Some lessons bear repeating.

During a visit with my mom in August, I “rescued” an old jewelry box from her Goodwill bag. I really have no idea how long she’s owned it, but she’s had it for at least as long as she’s had me.

I had plans to do a little renovation (the top arch is hinged and is constantly falling over, which seems to be a constant reminder that it really doesn’t belong there) and maybe repaint the boring brown wood a more exciting color.

I embarked on my last semester of graduate school a week after I returned to Huntsville, and haven’t had time to give the jewelry box much thought.

It hit me last week: I don’t love this item. I love the memories associated with it. When I was growing up, it was a permanent accessory on Mom’s dresser, and each drawer held a different treasure. A tiny gold bracelet that belonged to me when I was a baby. A large, exotic cameo pin. Mom’s class ring.

It was a mysterious treasure chest filled with things I didn’t get to see every day.

Without those items, indeed, without those MOMENTS, it’s just a big wooden box. I don’t even have a good place to put it, much less things to put in it.

Higher purpose time: One of my favorite local animal rescue groups, A New Leash on Life, recently donated $10,000 to Huntsville’s low-income spay/neuter program. The organization’s thrift store, called Market Place, made this donation possible. People donating their gently used goods make the Market Place possible.

As for Mom, she would much rather see her jewelry box sold to help animals than for it to linger on my closet shelf.

And the lesson repeated? Don’t think you have to hold on to things to hold on to memories.

Read Full Post »

A drive to New Orleans isn’t complete without a plate of beignets. And a week at Mom’s house isn’t complete without a drive to New Orleans.

Before.

After.

Read Full Post »

I had a total “ah-ha” moment this weekend. (OK, “ah-ha” wasn’t the phrase running through my head when the moment occurred, but let’s keep this family-friendly.)

My mom was showing me a vase that she had gotten from my grandmother’s house. It had belonged to my grandmother’s sister (or sister-in-law, maybe) and had been in my grandmother’s possession for decades after the original owner’s death. I had never seen this vase before, and it struck me as meh, valuable or not. I told my mom I wasn’t interested in it, and she was good with that — she’s learned the freedom of owning less stuff over the years, and respects my right to reject heirlooms.

The thought that ran through my head during the interchange, however, was, “Your treasure is not my treasure.” The thought wasn’t really aimed at my mom, since she’s not one to try to convince me to take things that I don’t want or need. I think it was aimed at the whole mindset people have that there are certain items that MUST be passed from generation to generation for eternity.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t pass things down or treasure things from long ago. But we can’t keep everything.

It’s not a personal affront if I don’t want your collection of glass cake plates; it’s just that my favorite cake plate happens to be a weathered old aluminum model with more character than elegance. (Autobiographical cake plate FTW.)

Back to the vase in question: I had never seen it before. Meaning that my grandmother kept it, but didn’t treasure it enough to display it. Therefore, I have no memories associated with this vase. It’s simply an object that I don’t find that attractive. I feel no urge to take it home simply because it belonged to someone I’m related to.

I have plenty of things from my grandparents’ home that mean A LOT to me. A collapsible aluminum cup that my grandfather brought back from World War II. A pair of funky cat bookends from the middle bedroom. An old, golden glass piggy bank that my brother and I spent dozens of hours playing with, poking coins in and then shaking them out.

These things are my treasures.

There are people who would have their children fill their closets and attics with heirlooms, simply to keep those items “in the family.” Don’t do that. Let your children choose their treasures. To facilitate that, choose YOUR treasures. The things you value, not the things you stuff into the attic and the basement, will be the things they actually want later.

Read Full Post »

This is Cocoa. Just looking at her, you wouldn’t guess that she scared the Easter bunny away one year.

My brother and I woke up early that Sunday morning, expecting to find full Easter baskets on the dining room table and undoubtedly making plans to skirt the no-candy-before-breakfast rule. Alas, there were no full baskets. There were no baskets at all.

I don’t remember if we woke Mom up or if she stumbled out of the bedroom around the same time, but I do know that she thought pretty quickly for somebody who had just woken up. She immediately shuffled us back into a bedroom, explaining that Cocoa had barked at the Easter bunny and he was afraid to come in, but was waiting outside.

Five minutes later, we were released to find our baskets filled with candy.

I don’t remember if I bought the story — at one point I started having doubts about such things but didn’t let on because, hey, free candy. I do remember that we weren’t mad at Cocoa; instead, we were a little proud.

Hell YEAH the Easter bunny was scared of our dog.

Read Full Post »

The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 35: Pinpointed the cause of the problem with one of the closet doors in my office (other than the fact that cheap, hollow-core bi-fold closet doors are the worst invention ever marketed to uncaring builders and unaware homeowners). Whoever lived here before yanked on the door so hard that the bottom pivot screw was actually ripped from the door, leaving a gigantic hole that I’ll have to fill with epoxy. Assuming I don’t simply replace both the doors with an awesome beaded curtain first.

Day 36: Spent the better part of the morning helping the husband set up my mom’s new computer via telephone and remove connection. He configured her wireless connection, while I ran Mac orientation. And if your mom has ever had computer problems while you were eight hours away, you know that helping her launch a reliable new computer setup totally helps your peace of mind. Ergo, this counts as a point for life organization.

Day 37: Spent a couple of hours researching online backup systems. I tried Mozy, but it’s become extremely unreliable lately, and its non-detailed interface doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies about which files have REALLY moved into the cloud. I’m currently leaning toward Dropbox, but I’m still taking nominations if anybody has a strong opinion.

Day 38: I made the mistake of taking the humidifier apart before I filled it up with water before bed. Oh my. The scale buildup on and around the heating element was simply horrifying, and I spent the better part of 30 minutes trying to scrub it clean. Even more horrifying was the knowledge that my husband had, indeed, actually cleaned it before. More than once. Meaning that the mess I saw did not take three years to accumulate, but possibly only weeks.

Day 39: I sorted through two catch-all UAH file folders. Not the biggest task, but I did manage to merge the documents that belonged together and get rid of some duplicates. The paperless office remains elusive.

Day 40: I grabbed a small stack of old copies of the New Yorker, tore out the stories that I had marked to save, filed them and put the old magazines in the recycling bin.

Read Full Post »

Meet Lion’s Head Garbage Can.

It occurred to me this morning for the first time ever — and I do mean EVER — how ludicrous it must seem for a grown woman to keep — and use — a garishly colored plastic garbage can in the shape of a cartoonish lion’s head. But I honestly cannot picture my office without it.

I’ve had him (and, I assure you, he’s a he and not an it) for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure my mom got him for me in the 1970s using trading stamps from the grocery store.

And just let me add here that everyone should have a mom who answers random text messages like “Did you get my lion’s head garbage can with green stamps?” with the same lack of surprise or suspicion that mine does.

Lion’s Head Garbage Can has been to college and made it through several moves. He has suffered the indignity of being stored in a closet for months on end. Tragically, his name is, indeed, Lion’s Head Garbage Can, which I can’t explain given my penchant for naming anything and everything.

I suspect he caught my eye, or my mom’s eye, because of my favorite childhood book: Crosspatch. I can’t quite remember what Crosspatch was about, although I’m pretty sure the plot revolved around a grouchy little lion cub. I apparently had grouchy little lion cub tendencies as a baby — my father claimed that my early grouchiness was the reason that he nicknamed me Bear.

But Lion’s Head Garbage Can can’t be renamed Crosspatch, because I actually HAVE a small stuffed lion named Crosspatch, which my mom recently rescued from my grandmother’s house for me.

So, here sits Lion’s Head Garbage Can, essentially nameless, but useful and loved, a somewhat ridiculous item that I cannot imagine doing without.

This is the best thing about paring down your possessions to only the essential and the treasured: You figure out the things that you simply adore, and you give yourself the physical and mental space to enjoy them.

Read Full Post »

Having heard about the death of a friend’s father and the death of one of my mother’s friends within the past seven days, it occurred to me that perhaps I’ve reached that age when deaths become more common. Then I realized that my father died nearly 10 year ago, so I guess I’ve been reaching that age for a while.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: