Archive for July, 2006

Mission Pack Mom -6-

Monday, July 31st, 2006

July 31. You know the old saying…. “You’re d…mned if you do and you’re d..mned if you don’t!” If I don’t pack it…. I will not have done my duty…. If I do pack it… we’ll need it. Every day we make decisions… Will you need this before September 10? or ever? … Well I packed boxes of gift wrap and we have had a slew of birthdays and now a wedding…. and of course I packed the “good clothes” because “who’s going any where anyway?” and … we have had 3 birthdays and now a wedding invitation. Since Mom will be “the Grandmama” (I put the accent on the last ma) we have to go shopping for a proper wedding outfit! At least we have shoes and a bag still unpacked. The bag was hidden under the luxurious nightgowns in the second drawer of the dresser that I haven’t gotten to yet… This is hysterical! We are giving the bride and groom Grandpa’s fine china turkey platter and 8 of grandpa’s wine glasses. I found something else antique in the curio cabinet to put into the mix. Now all I need is wedding gift wrap which is in a box only two from the top near the ceiling…. Today started out at a leisurly pace and then we started on the closet… Mom kept escaping and finally she lay down on the bed… She said “I hate going through Jack’s things…” and I realized we’re packing Jack’s things to go to the Paralyzed Vets… because Jack will never wear them again. We kept out one last suit for the “final ceremony.” Wow! that Mom lasted through that is a testimony to her strength. We moved quickly to shoes and crafts things and she then started getting energy again so we attacked the kitchen! Everyone of us should go to the kitchen and take stock!!!! How many pots have we thrown away but kept the lids for some reason? I threw away 15 lids that had no pots!!! We found 3 sets of mixer bowls and 2 extra coffee pots! We actually found some stuff that mom said… “I don’t know what this is.” Of course my duty is to say, “If you don’t know what it is, it’s time to pitch it.” And now I have the final duty of packing the glasses and china. That is my least favorite task because it takes such care and I am a broad stroke kind of girl!

Mission Pack Mom -5-

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

July 29. Beware of questions like “Where’s my bread basket?” I stop and cock my head and think… pursing my lips… and I ask, “Does it move?” This is from a joke of Chuck’s whenever I’m about to set out on house beautification…. “If it doesn’t move, paint it, and if it moves, kiss it and then paint it.” Mom says, “Whaaaaatttt? does it move? it’s a bread basket !!” I answer with finality, “Well Mom, if it doesn’t move; it gets packed.” … So the packing continues. We now have no bread basket that we can find. Two little girls had a birthday last week and Mom went looking for some coloring books she had purchased. “I want to wrap those coloring books,” she murmured… “Wrap?” I demured, “The gift wrap is packed. There is Christmas gift wrap in that box and occasional gift wrap in that box and I think the coloring books are in there….” I point to boxes in a tall pile of boxes poised periously close to the ceiling in the guest room. No guest is going to sleep in the guest bed as it is covered with video tapes, ice buckets, blankets, pillows, and boxes at this time. We’re taking the day off today as Mom’s blood pressure peaked when I made her go through her nursing books and papers. We deep-sixed notes and grading reports from classes she taught in the early ’80s and she almost wept. I emptied a 4 drawer filing cabinet down to one drawer. We all have file drawers full of string and old phone cords don’t we? Tomorrow we hit the Corning Ware cabinet in the kitchen.

Mission Pack Mom -4-

Monday, July 24th, 2006

July 24. Abe Lincoln is in the box. Remember I said to beware the back of the closet? Well I found 2 Abe Lincoln imitation brass book ends back there and I put them out on the dining room table dutifully asking should I toss them and got a yes along with yes on a somewhat shabby used shower curtain liner, 15 empty spaghetti sauce jars, and a tarnished silver chip and dip set. Meanwhile I hauled out all the food containers I found and dumped them in the pile too… You’ve all done the litany on the food containers: “Container, no lid - toss.” “Lid - no container - toss.” “Container with matching lid… if gooey and stinky - toss. Otherwise hold for decision.” Well the table was so cluttered that when I wisked away the tarnished chip and dip set, the 15 empty spaghetti sauce jars and the shower curtain liner… I missed Abe Lincoln.

Mom’s eagle eye spotted the Abe Lincoln book ends in the clutter of morning newspaper and cereal bowls… “Oh! The book ends! Better pack them. Jack loves those.” My head aches from the whip lash. “Abe Lincoln book ends? I tossed those… OOPS.” When my brothers go to move Mom they are going to wonder how come I packed so much stuff. Well…. You gotta move fast when Mom says, “toss’ em,” because she’s going to change her mind! So… Abe Linclon is in the box. And whoever unpacks him, be generous… I tried. Oh how I tried!

Mission Pack Mom -3-

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

July 23. Beware of the back of the closet…. This morning while Mom still slept I opened the linen closet and started on “the ground floor.” In my opinion… boxes at the back of the closet that have dust on them are to go into the “rummage sale/toss” pile. Except for treasured photos and letters. They get kept and moved… “for later.” I soon filled the hallway with items of interest - some I couldn’t identify what they are. I had started on a little storage cabinet in the kitchen when I heard a gasp from the hallway! “Oh my! oh dear! what is this junk???!!!! Ohhhhhh I have a lot of junk!” Mom exclaimed and sank into a chair and wimpered… “What are we going to do with all this stuff?” “Good Morning! Mom!” I cheerily countered as I rushed at her with a cup of coffee! “It’s not junk, it’s just stuff you don’t use any more!” (”Do we need artificial respiration here?” I secretly wondered!!!!) Mom said, “I need my pills.” Mom always takes her pills first thing in the morning before she drinks her coffee. No problem! As she doled out the tiny pink, yellow and purple life-savers, Mom said, “It’s over whelming… what am I gong to do with all this stuff?” “You are going to read the paper and we will make decisions later,” I murmured. So continues the saga of “Moving Mom…” How do you pack a lifetime into boxes? I think it is a gift to be able to do this, but to some it might be something else…

Mission Pack Mom -2-

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

July 22. The word serenity came to my mind two nights ago as I listened to mom breathe quietly while she slept. I watch her with my step-dad Jack. She is quiet and at peace. That is what serenity is. She is doing her duty and actually fulfilling the role she accepted when she said “yes” to be his wife over 25 years ago. She dresses up every day, wearing earings and Shalimar to visit him. She bends her head towards him and she smiles. She gives him her full attention. She is quiet and accepting. She is waiting, but not giving up. I know I can learn from this very strong little woman!

Little sounds issue from Mom’s mouth as she goes through a pile of books and papers I place before her. She murmurs a name. She stops to read cards. This is an interesting lesson for all of us. How much do we “store in a safe place,” but never look at? What will strangers do with this “stuff” if we suddenly pass on? Mom reads and smiles and sticks the perused item in a pile… take to the new apartment, give to the rummage sale, toss. Each item was valuable once and some items are just out of time now. We puzzle over pictures… “Who’s that?” there’s nothing written on the back of a faded Christmas picture. “God bless ‘em, toss it.”

Mission Pack Mom

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

July 20: Mom is finally moving out of her apartment on the East side of Cleveland. This is after living alone for over 1 1/2 years while dad is in a nursing home. My mission, and I accepted it gladly, was to pack Mom, hence the name of the mission! Brother Tom has stacked up about 100 sturdy boxes in Mom’s guest room so I promised Mom we’ll go through shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer and get everything into boxes before I leave. We touch everything. I fold and Mom looks through and I see her refolding…. Things must be washed before packing… Damp clothes fill the apartment… There are piles with labels…”winter clothes,” “summer clothes,” “Salvation Army,” “garage sale,” etc etc. I label every box carefully so nothing will be lost. Today was hot and then it rained like a son of a gun with hail! I managed to get the first load of clothes to the Salvation Army before being pelted with Cleveland’s finest! Hail and rain. I really love Cleveland! Packing Mom’s things is a delicate and decidedly chancy unmarked mine field. Whatever is missing will be my fault! If Mom gets nervous… I feel guilty! So I move through this mission gently, quietly, slowly in a an orderly and stealthy fashion! Anyone who knows me is thinking Susie can’t do this! Orderly? quietly? without screaming??? our Susie? Yep! I will emerge on the other side of this a new woman! Tomorrow… the closet shelf!!!! Love Susie!