One thing was clear last April when my Dad passed away, and my mind started to focus on the process that plays out when an estate is to be divided. I was more interested in memories than ‘stuff’.
I made a list of the items that I wanted from the home place, and when it was looked at by others who are close to me it was noted that there was more a list of yard sale items than 1/3rd of the estate to which I am entitled. I have never been a collector of items just for the sake of having something. I like mementoes that have a story to tell, and a memory worth recalling.
Such was the state of mind when James and I visited the home in Hancock on Thursday. The journey was emotional, and while James offered great support along the way there is no easy way to remove items that were so long a part of someone else’s life. There is no easy way to undo a family home.
As the car trunk was being unloaded last night at our Madison home the items took on another dimension. The sadness of the day gave over to the fact that these items entering our home, with all the memories, are now here to stay. They are not worth lots of money, nor are they prized by anyone else. Instead these items evoke smiles and stories and will be treated with the same care they received for so many years back home.
Among the mementoes is my dad’s shaving mug and brush along with my ever-repetitive question of why he never allowed himself the ease of an electric shaver. These items now sit in our bathroom alongside a bottle of Wild Country cologne that James has set out to recall his dad who lives in Maine.
There is an old ax where the wood is gray from age, and one of the potato crates Dad flipped over on its side while using to cut small wooden strips to fashion a christmas tree stand for one of my Charlie Brown cuttings.
There are some flower vases from when I was a boy that always held an array of ever-changing plastic flowers, a couple necklaces that were among Mom’s favorites, and a coffee mug from Chicago that brings to mind the numerous bus trips we took to sight-see in the Windy City.
“I can really see something this way,” my Dad would say as he looked out at the skyscrapers while not needing to concern himself with the traffic. My mom did not have to help with directions, and so was always smiling in the bus seat with windows that arched up high and over the top for perfect viewing.
James fashioned a wall ornament from two items that came from the garage. The spade is so old that even Plainfield sand may be too tough for it to dig into, and the garden shears are decades old and trimmed so much grass that they are in need of retirement. While my Dad mowed, Mom trimmed and spruced up the flower beds. Now these items hang in our home.
James and I stayed up until 3:00 A.M. talking over the events of the day and placing items where they would look nice. James washed each piece of my parent’s wedding china and then placed them in our china hutch with one of my Dad’s ties I had taken from his closet.