We’re finally sorting through Mom’s things. It took a lot longer than I thought it would for her estate to be cleared to be distributed and/or disposed of.
We’ve sorted through Mom’s huge jewelry collection and her clothes, and also her kitchen stuff. We just keep uncovering memories. Sometimes it’s wonderful, and sometimes it leaves me feeling sad.
I’ve felt sad a lot lately. On Saturday it’ll be six months since she died. I remember the six-month mark as I first grieved Rana, and it was much the same. A book on grief I read at the time says that most people go through a funk at the six-month and one-year marks. They might not consciously realize it’s been that long, but the subconscious knows and acts accordingly.
The family photos came to me. This one was loose on top of the boxes. Mom wrote 3-30-68 on the back, making her 23 and Dad 27. She was pregnant with my brother. It’s remarkable to see them this young.
This was taken in the front room at my grandparents’ huge house on Park Avenue in South Bend. My grandparents loved Polaroid cameras and always owned the latest models. This was made on Polaroid pack film, I can tell by the form factor and the white border. I wonder what model of camera they used to make the photo. Given how sharp it is, I’ll bet it was one of the higher-end models, like the Automatic 250 I used to own. It came with a pack of film expired since 1969. This is almost certainly the same kind of film my grandparents used to make that photograph.
My younger son Garrett is getting Mom’s car to replace his 23-year-old Saturn. Her 2015 Nissan Versa Note has just 16,000 miles on it — about 1,000 miles more than when she bought it in 2017. It was Nissan’s entry-level car at the time, but Mom got one with every option including heated front seats, navigation, and a back-up camera. It was her first car when she bought it at age 74.
We’ve been bringing home the things we want, but it’s a fraction of what she owned. Mom owns a complete 1940s Heywood Wakefield dining set, including the table and chairs, a hutch, and a china cabinet. Nobody in the family wants them. I’ll probably sell them on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Unfortunately, the table and chairs are not in original condition. When Mom’s aunt Pauline gave the table and chairs to us in 1976, we didn’t understand what we had and Dad stripped the set and stained it dark brown. Later, Dad tried to undo the damage by stripping the set again and refinishing it in as close to the original blond color as he could manage. Fortunately, he didn’t touch the finish of the china cabinet and hutch when Pauline gave them to us in the early 1980s.
Removing things from Mom’s dresser drawers I found a drawer full of Dad’s things. He kept a handful of letters I wrote him. In every single one, I was trying to encourage a deeper relationship with him. I remained disappointed until the day he died. But it says something that of all of the cards and letters I wrote him, he kept this particular handful. Maybe he wanted that deeper relationship as well, but never had any idea how to build one.
We are maybe halfway done sorting through Mom’s stuff. I wonder what else I’ll find difficult to cope with as we finish.