Wednesday, February 20, 2013

keep it safe

Mom has lost a little weight this winter, her hands are not quite as swollen as they were in December. I have not yet called the jeweler to cut her precious ring off her finger. The ring is still stuck, behind her arthritic knuckles, but it's not as tight as it had been.

When I took my grandmother's wedding ring off my Mother's finger in October, and brought it home, I also took home all her other rings.  She had kept her jewelry in a plastic bag in the back corner of her nightstand. There was her wedding band, college and high school rings, and her one fancy topaz ring. I had left them with her, in her apartment at the assisted living residence, because she would take them out often, put them on, look at then, and it made her happy.  I didn't want to take them away from her.  But it was clear to me this winter, that she no longer knew they were there.  I didn't want these rings to wander away. I know that Mom's neighbors come and go from each others rooms and borrow things. I know it's not stealing. I don't mind that the ladies borrow Mom's books, photo albums, stuffed animals, and hairbrush. I just didn't want to loose Mom's good jewelry.

I told my brother what I did, I told him I'd be sending these rings to his daughters. But, I hadn't yet.  And now it's too late.

My house was broken into. All, all, all the jewelry is gone! In less than five minutes someone cleaned out my house.  I am mad.  But... I am so grateful that no one was hurt, no one was home. It's all stuff and junk really. It's just stuff. But, it was my junk. My very old Brownie GS pin and the lovely green sea-glass earrings. They have no value except to me, they bring back happy memories to me. Now they are gone.

My right hand is naked, my ring is not there, my skin keeps asking me "Where is this ring? You aren't gardening today, you aren't washing the bathtub, why aren't you wearing your anniversary ring?" That makes me sad.

Over the past few years, as I have been cleaning out my Mother's house, and disposing of her precious junk without her knowledge; I have been thinking a lot about the value we place on our material possessions.  As the song says "You'll have to leave it when the coffin lid's on. You can't take it with you Brother Will, Brother John."

Will Mom ever ask me where her rings are? Probably not. So I won't have to lie to her and tell her, "Don't worry Mom, I have them and they are safe."

Monday, February 11, 2013

bursting with tears

Mom has a new behavior. She will burst into tears; huge sobs, her whole body shaking, gasping, and crying.
I first saw it when my brother was here in December. It is happening more and more often.

I grabbed a huge pile of photographs from Mom's table and brought them out to her, in the common room.  There is no organization to these photos, I don't have any idea what picture will be next.  It's all a jumble, a messy pile of pictures.

The picture of my seven year old son, in a silly pose, has Mom laughing out loud. How nice it is to hear her laugh.

Here is a black and white picture of her parents and her new little brother from the 1950's.  The pain of cancer is evident on my grandmother's young face. You can see she doesn't have the energy to hold the squirming toddler in her lap.  My mother bursts out crying. "Mommy, mommy, mommy!" she wails. She is inconsolable.  Here is a memory, here is something she has not forgotten! She is inconsolable. It is horrible.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

the sad iron and the cat

Today it was announced that the sad iron Monopoly playing piece has been replaced by the cat. The sad iron is obsolete and out of date.

My Mother had a very extensive clothing iron collection.  She had all sorts of irons: ruffle iron, hat band iron, ribbon irons, tailor's irons, charcoal burners, alcohol burners, tiny toy irons, small salesmen samples, detachable handles, wood handles, and bone handles. Clothing irons made of soapstone, steel, brass, and of course iron.

I kept a few, maybe a dozen or so, the rest went to auction.

Last week I brought some to share with Mom. Maybe fifty pounds of them! It was all that I could carry at once. In the common room, I put them out on the table in front of her, I placed her hands on the different handles, I wanted to see a connection. I wanted to see her move them in an ironing motion. Most of them were so heavy that she couldn't lift them off the table.

The aides and staff stopped by to see what we were doing. They eagerly asked Mom about her collection, they too wanted to see her light-up and communicate. But, the teacher couldn't respond, the avid collector was lost. The woman who could give an hour long presentation about the history of ironing to a room full of strangers... wasn't there.
Mom couldn't speak out and provide her knowledge, to fill out my rather sketchy explanation of what a hat-band-iron is. Her breadth of knowledge was immense,  I have just been a lifelong observer.

She gave her last ironing lecture in 2005, to one of the civic groups in town. I remember helping her load the car with boxes and boxes of irons, ironing boards, books, posters, signs, and the furniture dolly. Irons are very heavy!

The Monopoly sad iron is gone, this would have made Mom sad. At least it was replaced by the cat, she loves cats!


Thank you Dr. Jennifer Bute, what an inspiration you are!