Last week Thursday we buried my mother-in-law. She had been ill for a long time, suffering from Parkinson's as well as arthritis. The disease had progressed to the point where it affected her ability to do even the simplest tasks, and then finally her breathing and swallowing.
Her passing brought her relief from the pain, but it also left a hole in our lives. Last Saturday both of her sons and their wives met at her apartment to clean it out for the last time. We spent hours there, sorting through years and years of memories. There were pictures, journals, cards, newspaper clippings and other mementos of a long life. There were some things that had sentimental value only to her, and others that brought tears to our eyes. Earlier, the grandchildren had all been invited to come and take things that meant something to them, so that they could have something to remember their grandmother.
We each took things that meant something to us, shredded things like bank statements and checks, and bundled up other things to donate to charity. Being an avid scrapbooker, I'm interested in the photographs, but so are several others in the family. My brother-in-law decided to take the photos home, where he will scan them so everyone can have access to them. We took mom’s recipes, and one of our daughters has taken on the task of copying them for the many cousins who want them. The manager of the retirement home will distribute the rest of her belongings to people in the building who need them.
What will my kids find when I’m gone? If I were to die now, they would find lots of things that mean things to me, but are probably inconsequential to them. I’ve cut down on the books, and I clean out the clothes from my closets regularly, but there are a lot of craft items, scrapbooking supplies, and fabric that they would have no use for. I hope they would try to find a good home for them. The thought is depressing. Maybe I’d better hurry up and use things up so they won’t have to worry about it.
Rest in peace, HB. I’ll remember you whenever I eat jello or deviled eggs, see an owl or a cardinal, and use your cute little sewing basket. But most of all, I’ll remember that you raised a wonderful son, who became my husband and the father of my kids. For that I will always be grateful.