Jan 262008

Yesterday was, or depending on your perspective, would have been my mom’s birthday. One of the strange things that comes up around my mom’s death is which tense to use in which situation. Like, was yesterday her birthday? Do dead people have birthdays? I really don’t know.

It’s also strange because my parents’ house is being put on the market. Now, I stumble when I say “my parents’ house” because it seems to me I really should have erased my mother from that equation and updated it to “my father’s house”. Except the ironic part is, my father hasn’t even been in that house since my mom died. And on that technicality, I feel I am allowed to continue referring to it as my parents’ house.

It’s also strange because my mother spent a lot of time telling us, her three kids, which bits of Harris treasure we would get or inherit when the time came. Well, the time has come. What is it they say about the best laid plans?

We ain’t no kin to the Rockefellers but when my parents bought something, which wasn’t that often, they bought good stuff. We had a very nice dining room suite that was promised to my brother. As a kid, it always annoyed me that he got the most cherished chunk of the inheritance pool. Now it’s time to move all that stuff from my parents’ home, and my brother has no room for that dining room suite. In a different life, I would love to have it, but simply don’t have the space and I shudder to think what my cats would do to it. My sister also is suffering from space restrictions.

It’s just a very strange feeling to have been told for your whole life that one day you will own this thing. And the thing has been assigned value by the very act of someone wanting to pass it along; of making a point of passing it along, because it mattered to them. And now there is nowhere for it to go, except maybe to an auction house. It’s caused me to look around my place and imagine what bits of stuff that I have that might get passed on to someone else, and what parts will end up in the landfill cuz most of us have very little room for more stuff.

So, my parents’ home has to be emptied out so someone else can move into it. And while I have never lived in that house, I still feel a strange loss. It’s not the loss of “my home”, per se. Only twice in my life have I felt like the house I lived in was “my home” and this house doesn’t qualify. But there is the loss of some sort of safety net. I suppose it’s another step in finalizing the growing up thing. There is absolutely no safety net anymore. That’s okay, it’s just a new feeling.
I try to imagine what it will be like, in the future, to drive along that highway and *not* take the exit that leads to my parents’ home, to just keep on driving till I land in a motel room further on up the road.

It also means facing the fact that lots of things that were important to my mom have no place to go and so they will probably go to the Goodwill or to the dump. That process, the throwing away of something she valued and in many cases made by hand, that’s the part that almost kills me.

Sometime in the next month or so, between work and school, I will go and help my siblings empty out my parents’ home. And I feel an astounding level of dread whenever I think about that, for quite a few reasons. A big one is that emptying out the house, the house I don’t care about, will bring a whole new level of finality to the situation. It feels a bit like closing a door on my parents.

I’m still working through it all.

 Posted by at 12:19 pm

  One Response to “Birthday”

  1. Spike–You are right to dread going through your parent’s stuff. It is a truly dreadful experience. My mom died over 40 years ago and I still remember helping with packing up her clothes to donate to some charity. It was a bad, bad day. You’ve been through so much and you’ll get through this. After awhile it won’t hurt so much. It just goes, for most of us, close to the top of the list of painful memories we all collect along the way. You will always miss your mom but you’ll be ok.

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