Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sorting! Through Stuff, Grief & Loss

After my Mom passed away my younger brother and I went to our parent's home in Texas to be with our Dad.  Even though he told us not to.  Even though he told us that everything was taken care of. Even though he said no.

And he thanked us for coming down when we were leaving.

Though everything was in fact taken care of, he needed to go through stuff.




Her Car


And, that's some tough shit right there, people.

But he NEEDED to do it.  He couldn't go into his closet because her clothing and shoes were still in there. He didn't need a second vehicle.  And the momentum of that lead to going through her jewelry and then the food.  There was a lot of food.  Food he wouldn't eat or make.  Twenty-five bags of food that was donated to the local food bank.  Clothing and shoes that were donated to the thrift store that helped with hospice care for cancer patients.  She specifically wanted her clothing to go there.

And, when I left I told my Dad to bring up whatever he didn't know what to do with, that I'd handle it.

He came up a few weeks ago with a mini-van full (FULL) of stuff.  My Moms stuff, stuff he doesn't want or need anymore and, just stuff.

And, now, my office is full of stuff.  Stuff that I need to sort through and decide what to do with.

I thought that this process would be easy.  It's not.  I started the process this past weekend.

It hit me like a ton of bricks when I found my baptism gown in a shoe box plastic container with a card from my Godparents.

It rolled on as I found a yellowed recipe card for Blanket in my Moms handwriting, complete with phonetic spellings of English words and German words that I think I may know. And then, then I found the mustard jars.

Many glasses of Banana Quick was consumed from these glasses

I clearly remember every year going up to "German Town" in Chicago right before Christmas.  It now only consists of a handful of shops on Lincoln Ave., but back in my day there was more.

We would go to Meyer Delicatessen for deli meats only found there.  For cookies and candies and pickles.  For mustard.

The old Meyer's sign hangs in Gene's at the same location

And when I found the container of empty glass mustard jars, I lost it.  Because it's more than those jars.  It's the mustard, being smeared on liver sausage.  It's Christmas-time.  The jars being washed and used as drinking glasses.  Stored in the deep corner cabinet of the kitchen in my childhood home. The cabinet was orange, and I needed to jump up onto the counter top to reach the glasses.

As I was going through the books I found all of my Moms herbal and natural remedies books.  We never went to the doctor as children.  We had to be loosing blood or broken before we went to a doctor.  Everything was handled by Mom with teas and steams and baths with herbal infusions or sticky medicines that came from label worn brown bottles.  And sleep.  And soup.

The thing that got me, though, as I was going through those books and pulling out scraps of paper and photos used as place holders, was what was being marked in those books to remember for later times.

Digestive Issues


Head Aches


When I saw that last one, I put my Moms book down and looked over to the side table next to the recliner in my front room.  The chair I sit in to read.  The chair that is next to the side table that has my own herbal and natural remedy books about menopause and digestive issues.  And I thought, holy shit!

I mentioned these findings to my husband who said "herbals can't fix everything".  And, that's true. But what was more shocking to me was that these books, they are old.  Beyond the past two years where she lived with cancer.  Before that cancer spread.  My Mom was a medical professional.  This is actually something that her oncologist spoke about with great regard.  How she could pin-point the pain, the issue, the symptom.  She's always been able to do this.

It's an interesting view into my roots.  Why I make my kids take Cod Liver Oil and a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Why I use steams and tea and bone soups.  There is nothing wrong with preventative health.  The question, then, is when is it time for modern health?

This past weekend was tough for me all around.  I felt compelled to regain my office.   But, that came at a cost.  I'm recovering from my own medical issues right now.  Having had surgery a few weeks back and still healing from that, and being handed a diagnosis I wasn't expecting by my doctor. Beyond physically being spent, the emotional and mental strain was taxing as well.

It's been an interesting lesson on the value of things.  My Mom grew up poor, post WWII in Germany.  I understand why she bought the things she did and kept the things she did.  In the end, though all of our things, hers, mine and yours, will either get donated or thrown out.  This process is making me look at the things that I'm choosing to keep and really evaluate why.

I'd love to be able to pass those glass mustard jars on to my kids.  The thing is, they are better used now so that we can enjoy them and remember and I can share stories about them, my Mom and my childhood.

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie,
    I had the good fortune to meet your mom. While I only met her on one special day, I was influenced by her in a positive way. I will be forever grateful. Your dad is right, parts of her will continue to shine through in you and your brother(the stories you share of her) and in your insightful boys, her grandsons. Peace be with you!


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