We’ve put it off long enough. We have to do it. I get out of my comfy chair at home and go to the phone. I call my sister to tell her it’s time…time to face the inevitable. Mum’s house.
“Meet you up there in twenty minutes?” I ask her.
“Okay,” she replied.
Twenty minutes later, we walk through the door together. We’ve been here before, but never has it seemed so empty, thought it’s not.
“Where do we start? One room at a time, or jump all around?” I ask my sister, my sister that has been here just as many times as I have in the last few months. She shakes her head, looking at the memories around the room, and says, “I don’t know. I don’t want to do this.”
“Neither do I, but we have to. Why don’t we try to clean off this island to make more room.” What I really mean is “let’s take care of all these things that remind us of her.” Her memory is so strong. We find numerous lists that she made. Lists of birthdays of family members, lists of all her doctor appts., lists of who will be on D.W.T. S. – she loved that show.
“What should we do with these knitting needles and yarn?” she asks. “Do you want them, or do you think Sandy does?”
“I don’t want them. Hey, did you see the crocheted dress she had started for the doll? I found it stuffed in a bag in the closet. It’s red and white and it’s almost done. I wonder if Sandra would finish it? I think mum wanted it finished for the little ones.”
“Ask her. I bet she would.”
We both go to different areas of the house, she tackling the cupboards, me looking through the dresser drawers, drawers that contain her personal things. I find a paper that tells when each of us had our polio shots. A picture of my brother as an enlisted man. The wedding invitation for my oldest. A picture of mum’s niece who died twenty something years ago. That was her memory keepsake.
“Do you think we could give these Tupperware containers to anyone? Or just throw them out?” she hollers into me.
“Throw them out! Hey, do you remember who gave her this locket? There’s no picture in it.”
She comes into the room with me. She looks at it, holds it in her hand, turns it over.
“No,” she sighs, “just another unanswered question.” She forgets about the mess in the kitchen as we get caught in with the other treasures that belonged to her. We work in silence for a while, knowing that the end line is far away.
“Let’s finish this part and take a break - get something to eat,” I say.
“Sounds good to me. We’ll come back later.”
Minutes later, as we head for the door, we walk through the room where she used to sit, making her lists. The table has papers, books, and pictures on it, ready to be claimed by family members, members who will (hopefully) treasure them as she did.
“There’s a lot to be done, still.” I mutter.
“Yep,” she says, “but not now. A half hour won’t make much difference.”
We step outside and close the door, knowing we’ll be back to get the job done…later.