Saturday, February 6, 2010

Out of the Closet

This morning I began the arduous task of sorting through and emptying the home that Mom lived in for over 40 years. Eventually my sister will join me in this emotional endeavor, but right now the pain is still too fresh and she's just not ready. We all have our weak spots, those Code Red triggers, and hers is the house.

That's okay. These past few months, Jennifer has carried me when I've been weak, hugged me when I've cried and made me laugh when I never even thought I could smile. I'm more than happy to help my "baby" sister through this rough patch.

Besides, I figure I can handle one closet at a time. Really, I can do this. Ninety minutes, a few boxes and garbage bags and voila. After all, how hard can one closet be?

Let me tell you.

Although this particular closet was in my former bedroom, over the years it had turned into a catch-all. The plentiful pillows, duvets and blankets were easy decisions: the good ones would go to Shepherd's Gate, a shelter for abused women, and the tattered ones would find their way to the local animal shelter. But then I started unearthing more stuff, the kind of stuff you think you'll never forget, but lo and behold, here it is suddenly staring you in the face and turns out you forgot about it after all.

Like my collection of TV Guides from 1970. I don't recall why I was so into TV Guide that year. I'm guessing I was frantically checking to see if the Osmond Brothers were appearing on that week's episode of The Andy Williams Show, but why did I save each issue? Only my juvenile old brain remembers why.

I found my autographed black and white 8x10 glossy of Bob Hope, and a personal letter from the late comedian/actor, Freddie Prinze. I recalled seeing him on The Tonight Show in 1974, thinking he was hysterical, and writing to him asking where and how he garnered his comedy material. Even back then I was interested in writing.

There were my school yearbooks and my sister's birth certificate with the original photo and her teeny I.D. bracelet the circumference of a quarter. I found our familiar kitchen fixture, the brown ceramic Dutch girl cookie jar that was always stocked with Dad's favorite Mother's Cookies , and the red dog collar with tarnished tags that had the faded inscription, "Kernel," our long-deceased Cockapoo.

I found a half-filled tube of my Bonnie Bell Strawberry Lip Smacker lip gloss that I wore endlessly in the 8th Grade, and another iconic symbol from the 70's, my Pet Rock. I also discovered a long-lost love letter addressed to me from somebody named Mark.

Who the heck was Mark?

Throughout all this excavating, I was doing okay. My heart grew heavier with each treasured memento and keepsake revealed, but I kept trudging through like a trouper. That is, until I came across a ball of rolled up material stuffed inside a crinkly plastic shopping bag.

Drapes, maybe? Or perhaps a bedspread or small area carpet? I was about to slam dunk the bag into the "trash" pile until I thought better of it and decided to check out the contents. Good thing I did.

It was our mother's wedding dress.

And with that, I locked up the house and left. How hard could one closet be, I wondered?

Let me tell you.


Maria C. said...

What a treasure trove!

You done good.

Tia said...


I love that story all the way to the end. It is the journey of a lifetime lived over again.


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