My brother Dave and I just finished cleaning out Mom’s apartment. I’ve been back on the east coast from California for about 10 days: since February 19. I was here in the east earlier in the month for Mom’s 90th birthday party. She was determined to have her party. A full six months before she was to turn 90, she called to ask me if I was planning to come for her 90th birthday celebration. When I told her that I wouldn’t miss it, she seemed satisfied and told me that she would ‘hang on’ until then. Mom always got right to the point. It was only a few days after I was back west that Dave called and told me that I’d better come back. Mom wasn’t doing well. Mom died less than an hour after I was at her bedside.
After the burial, I stayed to help Dave clear out Mom’s apartment. This allowed me to miss Mom through the nostalgia of the memorabilia she saved and, at the same time, compartmentalize, by keeping busy with the task at hand.
Not that long after my father died, Mom moved into an independent living community. This required a radical downsizing. Although they had only been in their retirement home for about 20 years, I am sure there was more than 50 years worth of stuff crammed into it. I am grateful for not being present for this bloodletting of possessions. I am a packrat by nature and could have found reasons for keeping nearly everything. It was to everyone’s advantage that I wasn’t there.
But even with the downsized load of stuff at Mom’s apartment, it took Dave and me an entire week to empty it. It took us a full 12 hours to finish packing, loading and moving everything out.
Here is a flawed panorama of her empty bedroom.
After we were all done, I took this parting shot.
Mom’s space is no more. Her personal space died with her and now the place where she lived no longer exists either. She now only lives in the memory of those who knew and appreciated her.