Thursday, June 21, 2007

MY MOM'S TREASURE


I dreamed this morning that I was at my Mom’s house and she was there. It is funny because part of me knows she is dead, but part of me doesn’t believe it. She always comes back. When she first started coming back, she was always rather dismayed, because she couldn’t find her stuff. I felt like such a traitor, having gone through her things and discarded or otherwise distributed it to family and friends. It seemed the prudent thing to do. My Mom was a collector and boy did she have stuff! My Dad wanted to get everything cleaned out. He was not sentimentally attached to things like my Mom was. He wanted to sell the house and simplify his life. It was a perfectly sensible thing to do, except that my Mom, though she was dead, was not yet ready to leave her things.

I am the oldest child of five. All my life I saw my mother accumulating her treasures. She would find them on sale at stores, at antique shops, or garage sales. Friends and family would give her little things because they loved her and wanted to please her. She always returned the favor by making them feel special for giving her the most wonderful thing. It wasn’t an act. She really was thrilled with every little thing! And she saved it all. The remarkable thing, to me, was the way she was able to display these treasures around her home. She really had a knack for giving things their own little space.

Mom had cancer and it had progressed to the point where she was bed ridden. My sister came from Tucson and I from Seattle to take up residency, once again, in Minnesota, in the home where we had lived so many years before. Our mother needed us and we were fortunate to be able to respond and help out. Hospice nurses came regularly and so a hospital bed was brought into the family room. The family room had large windows that looked out over a swampy nature preserve. Mom loved that room because she could watch the animals and birds and feel nature all around her. While under the influence of morphine, she told my daughter, “If you ever find yourself in this situation, try and get this room”.

While Mom was resting my sister and I began going through things in the basement. Mom was very artistic and so she had boxes and chests and bags of craft items. Many items were so old that they had become vintage treasures! Others things were quite hilarious. For example, she had several big milk cans filled with pinecones; and about twelve dozen egg cartons with eggs in them that had all been blown out. What could we possibly do with stuff like that? I actually wondered if Holly Hobby, from the 1970’s, had retired down there. We kept finding evidence of her presence.

One November day Mom told my sister and me to go into the basement and bring up those little birds. She had a couple drawers full of feathery little fake birds that she bought here and there on sale. We pretended to go look for them but we had already sent a big bag of them home with my daughter Polly, who lived near by, so we told Mom we couldn’t find them. In frustration, my mother said, “Tell Polly to come and look for them, she knows where they are”! Polly came over and brought the birds back and Mom said, “I knew you could find them”! Then Mom had Polly take the birds outside and decorate the trees. There was a birdfeeder at the window that my Dad kept filled and birds were always flocking to it, but she also wanted to see birds in the little pine trees out her window. The next spring some of those birds were still hanging on, but Mom was gone.

The family home has been sold and my father, now 84, has moved to an apartment in Arizona. My Mom always talked about moving there, but honestly, she couldn’t face what it would have taken to go through her acquisitions of a lifetime. She couldn’t bear to part with any of it! My sister and I tried to divide up things between her children and grandchildren. It wasn’t easy. Especially when everything you look at carries a memory. We did the best we could. But truthfully, now that it is all removed from my Mother’s house, it has lost a lot of its magic. The box of Christmas ornaments will never be the same as they were on my mother’s enchanting tree. The cute little collection of trinkets from her fireplace mantle look really dorky on mine. All of her Nelson Eddie memorabilia and records – I don’t even remember what we did with it.

In my dreams, Mom would show up and I would wonder what to tell her. She wants to know where all her things are and I guiltily have to tell her we didn’t think she was coming back. She tries to understand, but looks at me with disappointment. Where did I think she went? She was only gone for a while. I try to make sense of it, but I can’t. She is still alive, of course she is alive! She would never leave us permanently.

When I wake up I realize that my mother has indeed passed away. Several years ago, in fact. But my reality is that she is not “dead and gone”, she has just “passed on”, and at some future time we will join her. Jesus Christ has given us this gift with his resurrection and with his promise of our future resurrection. My Mother never doubted that and it is embedded in my soul. Families can be together forever.

So why the guilt about all this earthly “stuff”? I don’t know. Maybe it is because I am still on earth and view things through mortal eyes. In my dreams mortality and immortality get mixed up. There is a scripture that reads, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. (Luke 12:34)
When I think of my Mother’s home and all the things she possessed and loved, I know that what she loved most was my Dad, her children, her grandchildren, family and friends. She showed that to us all in so many ways. She made everyone feel welcome in her home. The truth is my Mom was the real treasure. Her family and friends each hold a part of that treasure in their hearts. That and the promise is enough for now.

Now that I have analyzed it maybe I can let go of the guilt. I hope I can explain it to her next time she comes around.

19 comments:

Elaine Adair said...

What a lovely post. And your Mom was absolutely beautiful! Lots of guilt, because we women come that way. Cleaning out her home? been there, done that. But my Mom is still alive, just living in a state of mental confusion, not knowing where she is. Just all so sad, isn't it. You have lovely memories of your dear Mom. It's all OK. The joy of those treasures was HERS, not yours. YOUR joy is remembering. Thank you for this lovely post about your Mother.

Anne Ida said...

This is such a lovely post, Marcie! Your Mom sounds like a very special person! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories! Take care!

Laurie Ann said...

Thanks so much for sharing those memories with us. How fortunate that you gave those birds to Polly, who lived close enough to bring them back. How strange that you are still having dreams like that. Hopefully your subconscious will let that go, now that you've "talked" about it. God Bless!! And thanks for the reminder that it isn't our "things" that count!

Pam said...

Marcie!! wonderful post, beautiful memories...and please pass the kleenex. My own dear momma passed just over 2 months ago...I miss her so much! She too was ill before her death.

I just (TODAY!) started reading "One More Day" by Mitch Albom. Have only read the first couple of pages...but it is like you said...mom is gone and we know she is gone...but this guy is given one more day with her.

Thanks for sharing such deep, personal thoughts. You are right, through the resurrection of our Savior we are promised our own future resurrection...can't wait!!!

Blessings!
Pam@
www.pamgwillim.com

Carole said...

Speechless! Thanks for sharing! Be well!

Darlene said...

Marcie, I hope that your incredibly inspirational post will help you with the "guilt" you carry in your heart. Please know that in her own way, your Mom would and does understand!

((HUGS))

MOLLY said...

I think if your mom was relly concerned about what would happen to her "stuff"--she would have given you instruction as to what to do with it. I know that my "stuff" is very important to me, but I realize that my family will not have a clue what to do with it when I am gone. The thing is, I really don't care. It will have done it's job by the time I am gone and it will be time for it all to go somewhere else also. I feel sorry for the ones who will have to deal with it. You did a great job. You have nothing to feel guilty about. That is my 2 cents. Great post.

Knot Garden said...

What a nice-looking lady she was. It's natural to feel a sense of guilt, especially as you associated those things so closely with her. I'm sure she would have understood. A very moving post.

Nancy said...

Marcie, this is beautifully written and, I suspect, therapeutic for you. Thanks for letting us readers "meet" your mom.

Norma said...

I love this story. Now that your mother's treasure has been divided amongst the family, many more are richer for the memories.

Quilting Kim said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mother - sounds like she has a real "treasure" of a daughter, too. Just let go of the guilt - life is too short to live guilt-ridden. This post also reminds us to use what you have now so that we are not looking for it in the hereafter.

Susan said...

What lovely memories of your mom. You brought tears to my eyes with your ending. I'm planning a crazy quilt of moms, grandmothers and mother-in-laws. I would be so pleased if you have a picture of your mother, age 16-25 about, that I could include. There is a post from a couple of days ago on my CQ blog.

anne bebbington said...

Your mom was a lovely looking woman - and obviously on the inside too - I'm sure she'd understand what you had to do

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

A heartfelt and loving tribute to an even lovelier lady. Next time your Mom comes by you'll have an answer for her questions. You know you did the best with her belongings, there weren't any other options. The birds in the tree is a great memory.

Hanne said...

Thanks for sharing your memories.

Libby said...

Wow - a very powerful post that truly hits home. My mom has been gone for 16 years and until about a year ago I had very similar dreams. I was always stammering and stuttering trying to find a way to explain my actions. My husband and I still own the home that was my mom's and my grandparents before her - although we aren't able to live there just yet. Last year we had to evict the tenant and do some major work and updating. That was the point when it finally began to feel like mine and some of the dreams stopped. I do have parts of collections around my house - many that don't match things that I collect. But now it all seems a part of who I am. Someday my own grandchildren will wonder how I came to have such an eclectic and varietal style *s*

Su Bee said...

Your insight is literally choking me. My Mother is dealing with a terminal cancer diagnosis, and I am dealing with the thought of losing her. And we are both dealing with what to do with the "stuff". If you don't mind, I'd like to print your thoughtful entry and put it away for a time when I will need the strength and truth it contains.
Thank you.

Linda said...

Such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing so transparently your feelings. It's hard to lose one's mother. Treasure the "stuff." Allow it to enrich your life, knowing that it was a part of your Mother and, therefore, a part of you. I have very little of my Mother's own things. She had remarried late in life after my Dad's death. She took very little of her things to her new home. I have things that she used in her new home, but they had belonged to the previous wife and I can't relate to them. But the things that were hers bring me pleasure knowing that they hold her touch. The real comfort, though, is as you say...in looking forward to the heavenly reunion.
God bless you.

Brenda said...

This post was way before my blogging days and I just came across it today from a later post. You made me think of my own Mom and how she hoards and collects everything everyone has ever given her, and how she displays every trinket that every niece or nephew brings her. Seeing how my Dad has 14 sibblings and Mom has 9 (yes, that's a total of 23 aunts/uncles...all of them have married and had children!), you can see how that collecting and displaying has ramifications... I can't even begin to think of what we would do if we had to sort it. I think that you were one brave cookie to tackle that one. I'm so sorry for your loss. I too believe that we will all come together again. Big hug, Brenda=)