Sunday, November 2, 2014

Saving Time in a Picture Frame

Today was my mom’s 72nd birthday. I once again experienced a day that was a collision of life passing by meeting things staying exactly the same.

While I was there, her aunt Vonna called to wish her happy birthday. Her aunt…in whose wedding my mom had been flower girl. Before he died a few years ago, my mom’s uncle Fritz had always called her on her birthday, and now his wife Vonna carries on the tradition. I can remember being 8 years old and Uncle Fritz calling at 6 a.m. because he knew mom worked the early shift. So of course it made sense to get that phone call today.  

Mom still gets candles on her birthday cake.
My family has enjoyed extraordinary luck in terms of long lives. No one has died unexpectedly, no one has died young. Every parent, sibling, cousin, aunt, and uncle I’ve ever had is still living. My grandparents were into their 70s and 80s when they passed, as were the great aunts and uncles I knew. This is part of the reason things seem the same year after year. 

But this year my mom seemed a little older, though most people would agree she doesn’t look her age. She’s recovering from a recent car accident and isn’t moving around as well as she’d like. I couldn’t really hug her because of her injury. She’s fragile.

We spent part of the day going through closets. She’s been trying to pare down things in her house that are taking up space. I’ve written before about how much I enjoy going through my own closets and getting rid of non-essentials. My mantra has become Keep Only What You Use. I embrace this because I have hopes and dreams of moving to a new state, of keeping my baggage light, of not being weighed down by my stuff.

But I suspect my mom has a different view of thinning out their possessions. Her resistance to my attempts at getting rid of what I saw as just a few duplicate items and outdated decorative things seemed out of proportion to my pushing. She took multiple attempts and made various excuses to stop what we were doing, to delay it until another time. 

But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them...

I believe everything she owns has a memory attached, and getting rid of anything feels like throwing away a part of her life, or her kids’ lives. I reassured her that she should not feel guilty for getting rid of something that was a gift, that we’re not keeping track. 

I have the best of intentions. I'm trying to make her life easier, to help unclutter some dark corners that might be weighing her down. I don't know where the line is between taking control and respecting a boundary, even if that boundary is purely sentimental. 

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