Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 29, 2015--Farewell to the Ladies of Forest Trace: Stuff

The receipt arrived yesterday from the charity to which we gave much of my mother's furniture, housewares, and clothing.

I believe all will be put to good use.

For tax purposes, I suppose, the receipt itemized the donation--

Under furniture they listed two upholstered chairs (one of which was the one my mother sat in for decades when we visited), a sofa, two end tables, six shelves, a desk and chair (where my mother sat to balance her checkbook), two patio tables (one of which held her orchid collection), three mirrors (who know what ghost images are contained therein), a large breakfront, a mobile bar (which held a dozen unopened liquor bottles--my mother didn't drink even sacramental wine), two twin beds (one my father's the other the one in which she spent her last days), a dresser (on which there were framed pictures of her immediate family--these were not donated), and a convertible sofa (where Rona and I slept restlessly when in years past we visited).

More reflecting the reality of my mother's final years, the receipt listed a shower stool, a "handicap bath set," two canes (which she began to use when she turned 95), two walkers (needed five years later), and a wheelchair (which during her last two years she eventually required).

The ladder of years indeed.

She was not a shopper but since she kept virtually everything she ever bought in meticulous, perfect condition, at the end, the itemized list stated, her clothing filled fully 17 bags. In addition, there were at least two dozen pairs of shoes. All in their original boxes. (Not enumerated in the receipt. The IRS will figure it out).

The receipt also noted--COW 1 Hour. I assume that's an acronym for about how long it took the men to remove Mom's things. One hour. A lifetime resolves itself, this aspect of a lifetime, in just one hour? Would two have made me feel any better, that she had had a richer life? And then of course I wondered, how many COWs will it take to cart away my remnants?

But it's hard to imagine she could have had a richer life. Accomplished, respected by all, generous, loving, loved.

It is a cliché to say a life well-lived is not about things. Stuff. Though perhaps in some cases, if there is little else, it is.

But with my mother, her life was about what she did, the people she embraced, her pride, her ambition, the mark she left on the world, and how she lives on--not in anything tangible or quantifiable like a list of things, but in the hearts of all who knew her well enough to feel the awesome power of her love.

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