Eldest turned 23 yesterday. When I started claiming this little part of the Internet as mine, he was on the cusp of turning 10. If I were to go into the archives, I imagine I could find a post filled with awe that he would enter the double-digit age. "I can't believe he's THIS old," I likely exclaimed.
I am no longer surprised at the rapid progress of aging. Appalled? At times, sure. Before the epiphany that led to my deeply held atheism, I was an all-out believer. The nightly ritual of prayer has been replaced with thoughts of "I cannot believe I'm almost 60!" and "There's no way in hell we'll ever be able to retire" and "Oh, ugh, I hope I die before Pete."
That last thought, of course, is a direct result of the very recent and raw experience of my mother's death and the removing of all vestiges of her life from her home. I filled three boxes with those vestiges that would come home to me. Her cookbook, the one she got when she was 16, and the one she used over the next 67 years. Her recipe box, with so much goodness to savor. A couple of pairs of shoes. Her china. Remnants of her copper pots and pans collection. A blouse that I would never wear but that represents her so fiercely that I had to have it to hang in my closet and see every time I open it. A huge Rubbermaid container that holds a treasure trove of pictures for me to dive into before carting down to my sister and younger brother for them to do the same.
In the 2.5 years between her death sentence diagnosis and her death, we prepared. Kids and nieces and sisters identified what we would like of hers. The items she loved the most, she would press me to take. (I assume she pressed others as well.) "Don't you want the china, Patty?" "These rugs are so wonderful, are you sure you won't have them?" "What about the Japanese china cabinet?" "The elephants?" Although she didn't say it outright, what she wanted was to know the items that meant so much to her would mean the same to me. So I claimed everything she pushed onto me, to ease her mind, so that she could find a way to peace.
The three boxes and the china cabinet arrived Thursday, six weeks after her death. My house is now sprinkled throughout with her life. The ceramic frog that holds the brillo pad. The 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook. The non-stick tube pan that was used to make her sour cream coffee cake Saturday morning. Pewter rabbit salad set. The cup (with lid and straw!) I bought her to keep her hydrated. That blouse in the closet.
I walk through the house and no longer need a mirror to see my Mom.