Friday, November 26, 2010

Out With the Old ...

It's fall, and it's time to change out the closets. This means that I have to take all the summer clothing out of the closets and drawers, store them properly, and take out the winter clothing. Stuff that doesn't fit any more is boxed up and taken to charities, given away to people who can use them, or thrown out. Sometimes there is a bit of alteration required. For some reason the waistbands tend to shrink over the summer.

I also tend to find "stuff" that has accumulated that we no longer need. Since I still teach part time, I find papers and magazines to be recycled, pencils and pens that no longer work, books ready to donate to library or writing group, and other things. It's a busy time.

My kids tell me that I hang on to things I no longer need. Maybe so, but I think a lot of the accumulation stems from the fact that my days are very busy and often I'm too tired to deal with the hassle of deciding what happens to each item. When I come home, it's all I can do to put on a pot of decaf coffee, sit down and unwind. It seems when I lie down, exhausted, my mind doesn't want to slow down and I can't sleep. So the next morning I wake up exhausted, and we start all over.

But twice a year I manage to make time to dig around and sort through as much as I can stand. I avoid it like the plague the rest of the year, but it’s a necessary evil. Sometimes I find things that remind me of happy times, and I relieve them a little, like the little bow and arrow set my daughter insisted on purchasing at the Renaissance Fair. Other times I shake my head and wonder what possessed me to spend my time and money on an item, like the striped sweater from Old Navy. Both are in boxes, ready to go to go somewhere else. I have one closet done, several more to go. I can do this.

Otherwise, where will I put all my new stuff?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mementos of a Life

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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Human Taffy

I'm wondering how I can write this without sounding like I'm whining or complaining. But it's something that's on my mind a lot. And I need to write about it.

I'm at the point in my life where my kids are all grown and independent, and I’m free to worry about myself. Unfortunately, my mom is at the point in her life where she needs help – often. I've got grandkids I want to spend time with and hobbies I want to pursue, but mom needs me around. I'm feeling stressed and overworked. I'm pulled in several directions. Sorta like human taffy.

How do other women with burdens bigger than mine deal with this? How do they pace themselves, taking care of everyone else, and still have time and energy to take care of their own needs? I have a gym membership that hasn't been used in five months because I can't get there, or when I have time to go, I have no energy. People tell me that I would have more energy if I made time to go.

I can't cut the grandkids off. I need time with them. There's a new one coming in January and I need to have time for her. So I guess the only thing to do is cut some of the other extras out. Where do I start? I have two part-time jobs. One pays for groceries and gas, and the other one pays for extras, like vacations, gifts, and occasional splurges. I volunteer once a week by sewing – twice a month in a quilt guild, and twice a month in a group that makes hats for various charities. And I’m studying Japanese so that I can communicate with my relatives.

So I guess the first thing that should go would be Japanese class. And then if that doesn’t give me enough time, it would be the sewing groups.

Okay, so I’ve outlined a plan. I don’t like it, but it’s on the table. I guess now I need to sleep on it.

I hate major decisions.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Losing My Marbles

I am a bad grandma.

Last Tuesday I missed another of my grandkids' events! I was on facebook when I saw Scottie's post "My orchestra concert was good tonight." AAAAAAAAHHHHH! I even had the concert on the calendar! So that makes three things in two months. I missed Gabe's band concert, Morgan's Powder Puff game, and now Scottie's concert. I suck, as the kids would say. Why didn't I even look at the calendar? It was on both the phone and on the wall calendar. Mark's been really preoccupied with his mom, and I'm preoccupied with my mom, but I had nothing to do last night after my class. I could easily have made it there. I feel soooo bad.

I couldn’t figure out why I would be so unaware of commitments I had made. Up until a few years ago, before my kids could drive, I had to keep track of not only my schedule, but theirs – and we all usually got to where we were supposed to be. Could I really blame it on aging?

Anyway, I went online and found out when the next high school band concert is at Hudsonville, and the next orchestra concert is at Duncan Lake Middle School. And I have them both on the calendar. In bright red ink. I hope I remember to look at it.

Two of the three grandkids have forgiven me. I wonder what else I can do to remember these things?