Mom’s junk.

Cleaned out mom’s apartment yesterday.

Mom saved 90 years of EVERYTHING. We kept the stuff most precious to us, gave to charity other things and junked the rest. Easy to say “everything is impermanent,” than it is to throw out your mom’s stuff and really feel how impermanent things and people are.

When we were done there was an empty apartment, waiting for someone else to fill it with their own life story, their own things and their own junk.

Not easy at this time to end this note with a self-soothing platitude and say things like “I know mom is with us always.” I mainly feel now that she will never be with us, at least in this world, ever again.

Keep thinking of Dylan Thomas:

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Zach

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5 responses to “Mom’s junk.

  1. It only took you one day?? You folk are awesome.

    Cleaning out the space that a loved one has created and filled, in the physical sense, can be very traumatic. Some folks, as you say, Save EVERYTHING, and sometimes do not throw much of anything out ….

    My wife followed her own mother’s habit of “hiding stuff for later”, so we could not move along a book without checking it for paper$ and information in the pages.

    When my mother-in-law passed a few years ago, her daughter and one of her daughter-in-laws went through every nook and cranny, every pocket of every coat, pants and shirt, and assembled quite a stack of $50 and $100 bills. Fortunately my wife usually used “dead-drop” bank-accounts that she got a sister to open for her. THAT was an eye-opener!

    My aunt, when she had to go into palliative care, we filled the dumpster at the back of the Apartment, as well as a fair-sized storage locker. She was a registered nurse, and we found medications that were *more than 20 years old, and about 3 cubic yards (I am not making this up) of plastic grocery bags. (Among the grocery bags were a dozen bottles of hard liquor, with only an ounce or two out of each one. I guess she could not find them again once she “tucked them away.”)

    Since my wife passed 6 + years ago, we have moved about 40 boxes of books, for a total of 400 cash and 400 credit. It took me a long time to get up the energy to do that. The sentimentally precious stuff, small things religious stuff, I have stored in the oak-box that we used for her cremains, I use it for a base for her Four-Armed Chenrayzig statue that she got from HH, which is now a main part of my own shrine table.

    The last month, we have had to turn the house upside-down because the copper plumbing was literally crumbling to the touch.

    Now the clean up begins again, a neighbour (the contractor who changed the pipes) has offered his large pick-up for taking our “extras” to the Waste Disposal and recycling companies.

    Impermanent, and we have to sweep up after, too.

    Blessings Zach,

    Robert the rGyatso

    • I like this phrase: “Impermanent, and we have to sweep up after, too.” How true.

      It took us, all told, about a month of planning and multiple several hour long visits to the castern end of Long Island to get everything out. All sentimental, no surprise cash findings (although there is the mystery “safe deposit box” we are waiting for a court order to open). Dad was an avid photographer and my brother and I as well. Probably 100’s if not a couple of thousand of photographs. I’m having about three quarters of them scanned, for viewing (or not) by imagined generations to come. Will have to put them in order or no one will ever look at them. I’m putting our family on ancestry.com and will have links. Probably the project that I intend future family to look at that will be looked at on one or two rainy days only. So be it. I’m enjoying myself in the meantime.

      Your wife sounds like a unique individual. I can’t imagine, in addition to looking through things, to also look through the pages of the books my mom had! Wow. Don’t know if I could have the ‘cremains’ of anyone in my home, as my childhood fear of ghosts remains unabated (although I can walk anywhere in NYC just about anytime and feel quite at home!).

      Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful, kind and interesting response to my posting.

      Take care and blessings back at ya!

      Zach

  2. No, we did not keep her cremains around, she was scattered by her family on a hillside that was protected by a local 1st Nations band, there were some nearby culturally modified trees. The hillside overlooked her home town where most of her family still lives and looks south to a stunning vista of sky and river-valley, looking about 30 miles along the Fraser River. A bit like this image http://www.flickr.com/photos/indieaner/2886100472/

    I had the use of the box already in mind when I chose it to hold her remains for the memorial and funereal service.

    The services that were local were for her family, and HH and three of his main monasteries in Tibet an China held a prayer service for her. About 1800 monks, nuns, yogis and masters.

    Heh, whether the cremains were at home or not, it makes no difference to her. She is off busy doing her stuff, and has dropped by once or twice to check on me and the girls.

    Bless

    Robert

  3. Robert that scenery is very interesting. The mountains in the background are awesome and convey a sense of ‘somewhere out there (like way beyond NYC! :)) .’ The sides of the river, though, look manmade?

    Nice ‘talkin’ with you as usual.

    Be well,

    Zach

  4. The sides of the river there are not *especially man-made. Tidied up a bit in the last 150 years, certainly. The river widens there, and the benches are the river bottom from about 9000 years ago. Back then, the river took a right turn at about the centre of the photo, and flowed west about 100 miles, and then from there flowed south to the mouth-of-the-river area through a different mountain trench. Some minor tilt of the plates or landslip blocked that route, and sent it south where you see it now. Louise’s meadow is about 3/4 the way up that photo on the right edge, and on the other side of that ridge that you see there, behind what the locals call “Red Rock.”

    This area and a few miles north of there was one of the great 1st Nations “factory-production” areas. Hot, Dry, and Windy, the salmon were caught in season and quickly processed and dried. An area about 10 miles north of Lillooet, behind the camera position, is a great plateau with remains of many hundreds of “pit-houses.” These settlements, estimated to be in the many tens of thousands of population, were wiped out in the 1500 and 1600’s, through to the 19th century, by the plagues brought by the whites. I talked to people whose families are still dip-fishing the salmon from their family’s traditional “stand” on the river, that date from these and earlier times.

    About 50 miles south of Lillooet, is one of the old “Grease-Trails,” which transported processed fish-oil from the Eulachon or candle fish, carried in baskets. From the coast, the oil was carried over the Rocky Mountains and traded all the way to the Red River in Manitoba, and to the head waters of the Missouri and the Mississippi.

    Flints from the area of the North Dakotas, have been found in the detritus of a 7000 year old “buffalo-jump” in the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains. They got around they did.

    Bless

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