Thursday, August 30, 2012


Mom, last time I saw her, healing but sad
I spent much of the day today in my mother's apartment, sorting the final wheat from the chaff. She has pared down and pared down and pared down again and again in all the many moves of the last seven years.

But this one is extreme.  Everything must go, except what will fit in one dresser, one amoire, one nightstand. Half a room. My mother's sphere of influence, the breadth of her ownership is now half a room. In a nursing home.

Like going away to college. Only not. So. Not.

I am so filled with emotion I am nearly paralyzed. But I must not be. I have a deadline for this job. That it coincides EXACTLY with my son's first day of school is nearly killer.

I have a bottled up ocean inside me to spill out over this. But not yet. I am beyond words for now. Tucked deep into my sorrow, steeling myself for the endgame that lies ahead, be it months or years.

My father's beautiful sculptures

I keep stumbling upon bits of my childhood everywhere I look.

A baby shoe.

A book I read on my father's lap.

A hand-blown glass bauble from the gallery.

A tiny blue pitcher I gave my mother for her birthday.

How do I choose what to let go of; what to hang onto? I can't. It's impossible. But I must, so I do.

It is so hard to keep myself from tumbling down the rabbit hole, getting lost in reverie.

But I can't. I can't. I can't. I... oh my, what have I found here...


  1. Know that you were most fortunate to have a loving mother and to respect her in this way. She will not want possessions now; she will want the girl she has been blessed with - you are both very lucky. (By the way, any chance that she can at a later stage be upgraded to a single room-ask if you would like to, you might get lucky)
    Casey Erica Banks

  2. i cannot even begin ti imagine how heartbreakingly difficult this is. I'm sorry this is happening.

  3. Varda, my dear, I so wish I were in NY to help. (alas, having lost both my parents by 27, I am familiar with the process). What I will say is, remember that this is a one way process, and acting too rashly in the panicked emotion of the moment will create too many ghosts. Set aside one or two boxes for some of the "not ready to decide yet" things, and store them in the basement of some friend or relative with more space. (hell, you can ship them to our basement in Oregon!). In a few months, when the sword is no longer over your head, you can go through those boxes more mindfully, and make more relaxed decisions. Even if you wind up letting go of everything in the boxes, you will feel better because of the chance to decide at your own pace. Big hugs to you. Remember to breathe, friend.


    1. Fabulous advice !!! Varda, please take heed. I know this is a difficult time for you.
      Love, Lois

  4. Oh, also, I remember that horrible feeling of getting rid of the little tchotchkes on her night table... things that were important to her, but not to me. Little souvenirs of HER stories, whose significance died with her. So hard, I am crying just thinking about that time. So sorry you have to go through this. More hugs,

  5. Oh, this has to be so hard. Thinking of you.

  6. the winnowing, the winnowing. I did this with my mom when she moved (once, twice, three times...) and it was brutal - and she was just going into another house of her own, not a room. I wish I had an attic to lend you for your treasures. Could you make a scrapbook? Photograph things, write captions (maybe Ethan could help you), keep the memories and stories, if not the actual THING?

    1. What a lovely lovely idea!
      the kids could also choose/ write about items that have good memories attached. I actually took some photos of my grandmothers apartment right before the final pack up started, and those shots are really nice to have.


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