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Friday, August 2, 2013

I'll Trade You All My Picks For .......

As many of you know the weeks between July 13 - July 26 were spent in and around my Mom's last independent living apartment.  The 2 bedroom apartment was around 900 sq. ft.  Why, then, did it take almost 2 weeks to clean out the place?  If you do not know the answer, you have probably never had to "clean out" the home of a beloved person.

First of all, Momma is a child of The Depression.  Her father lost his investments in the 1929 stock market crash.  He was counting on those funds to pay off his second farm.  The farm with the beautiful two story house.  The farm near the church his family patriarch was instrumental in growing.  Once I asked Momma what was the best time of her life.  Her answer somewhat surprised.  "Playing along the white rock creek and fields by 'The Big House' in Chambersville."  My response was, "So marrying Daddy, having us girls, retirement and time with Daddy, vacations, visits to and from Aunt Sissy, etc., none of those were top of the list?"  I was somewhere between shocked and crestfallen.

The Big House before being torn down.

Mom loves the past so much she sometimes fails to enjoy today.  Or that is how it seems at times.  But if she preferred her Chambersville childhood, cleaning out her apartment did not necessarily reflect that.  Now mind you we had cleaned out her attic at 302 Young for her 80th birthday.  Then in 2006 after Daddy and Uncle Clay passed and Mom had to have stints placed in two closed arteries we moved her kicking and screaming to 1716 #72.  There had been a lot of cleaning, tossing and bringing back to our own homes during those clean outs.  It was during the clean out time for the 1716 #72 move the clothing for my doll was unearthed.  You can read about that here.

As usual I digress.  We spent two weeks plus going piece by piece, card by card, newspaper article by newspaper article making sure no valuable or important document was tossed by oversight.  We found among other things at least 4 or 5 50 gallon trash bags full of greeting cards Mom had received over the last 7 years.  We found cards from her grandchildren written by us girls for the too young to write grandchild.  The oldest grandchild turned 57 this summer, the youngest is 21.  Those cards were taken home by the now senior citizen and middle aged moms, us four 'girls'.

Now that last statement may be the most telling as to why it took so long to clean out 900 sq. ft.  We are not youngsters, 77, 73, 67 and 58.  But that is not all.  You see there were items such as the 100 yr old cranberry dish; the kerosene lamp our Rogers' grandparents started housekeeping with in the early 1900's; the iron skillet and melted watch that were in the 1942/3 fire;  Daddy's wool knickers;  the dipper we drank from that hung on a nail above a pail of hand drawn water;  12 place setting of Fostoria crystal.  We weren't cleaning out, we were dividing treasures of the heart.  We were sorting the things our Mom had saved from before she was born up to a card from the youngest great-great grandchild.

Oldest grandson with younger brother and sister decked out for Easter.

Ground rules were established early on with a list in hand.  If more than one person wanted an item, a drawing would be held.  No person could 'win' multiple drawings in a row on the 'main' items.  One other criteria of the dividing was simple, if you or your kids gave the item, it's yours first.  Then if you do not want it, open for trading.  Most folks would laugh at the main items as listed in the previous paragraph.  Several of the items we chose were glued together.  But we are a family rich in love, short on funds.  And as the children of survivors of The Great Depression we never had a single drawing.  We simply shared.

Yes, my sisters allowed me the privilege of giving the iron skillet to my only child.  The requirement?  He must learn to cook chicken fried steak and serve to any of the family coming to Austin.   Also, from that point on when asked about a specific object, my response was, "I have the iron skillet, I get no more picks."  Surely, I did receive other objects that carried memories of love as well as just practical stuff.  I have Mom's serger and the table on which she served so many meals to her family.  One of Daddy's gloves so my grandsons can see if their hands are as big as Granddaddy Arleigh's.  One of his last clipboards from his appliance business.  I attempted to not be greedy but still managed a trailer load of stuff.  Besides, I am trying to move to TX so, "I am downsizing already!"

The table that was always under 'wraps'.

We four sisters negotiated for the physical, tangible artifacts of our lives.  And we did it without fighting or hard feelings.  Mom still has the dipper, the lid for the iron skillet and The Clock.  The dipper is Suzie's when Mom is ' done with it.'  The Clock is TBD between the other three sisters.  I have the iron skillet.  We walked away with our heads high, arms linked and still very much in love with each other.  This was one of the best times of my life.

Our Son sitting on the table feeding Grandaddy ice cream

Mom mixing up some good something in the kitchen at 302.  Dipper in foreground.  Properly hanging from a nail over the sink.  Would you like a drink?

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