Thursday, April 15, 2010

Picking Up and Packing Up

Yesterday Liz and I picked up Mom's cremains. She's in a temporary urn -- an ugly brown plastic box -- but the funeral home puts everything in pretty blue-and-white shopping bags.

We picked up my memorial pendant, too. Although I'd been kicking myself about how much it cost, I actually really love it, and I'm glad I got it. It's a lovely piece: very heavy, probably mostly solid silver, a heart-shaped loop with two silver bales (which to me can symbolize either my mother and her two daughters, or me and my two parents). A tiny bit of Mom's ashes are inside, although I can't see them. It makes me feel closer to her. I also now have in my purse four of her pillboxes, three of which I gave her when she had breast cancer in 1988 so she could keep her various chemotherapy meds organized at work (she worked through almost her entire treatment). One of the pillboxes, a small, intricately etched silver cylinder, now has a lock of her hair in it: Liz and I each took a lock after she died. So I'm well-furnished in the reliquary category!

After we picked up the cremains, we picked up Gary at the airport. "Mom's waiting in the trunk of the car," we told him. My family uses black humor during times of stress.

Last night, Liz and I plowed through most of her clothing and handbags: two dressers, three closets and several boxloads. Liz didn't want much clothing, but I took a lot. We collected five large Hefty bags of stuff -- along with a few smaller shopping bags -- and we'll be dropping those at a shipping place today so they can be mailed to Reno. I'm going to pay to have them pack the stuff up for me; some of it's fragile (we found a few boxes of Mom's beloved ceramics and glass, still unpacked from when she moved in with my sister seventeen years ago), and having other people do the work will be less stressful for us. I have no idea where I'm going to put everything in Reno, but I'll figure that out when the time comes. The boxes can live in the garage with a lot of Dad's stuff, if necessary.

I'm using one of Mom's old handbags as a carry-on to hold all the jewelry. Gary arrived with only one carry-on to my two, so he can take an extra one.

Right now, Liz and Lloyd are picking up the rental van for tomorrow. When they get back, Liz and I will drop the bags off at the shipping place. Then we'll come back and start going through photographs. We haven't even touched Mom's extensive art collection yet -- she has a tremendous amount of work from her parents -- but that can wait if it has to.

Gary commented this morning, "You always predicted that you'd be a basket case when your mother died, but you don't seem to be." At the moment, I'm not; I'm feeling pretty peacful and even periodically joyous. My parents are out of pain, and Liz and I can get on with our lives. But I'm sure I'll cycle through many emotions over the coming months.


  1. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Just a note to say that I'm thinking of you and Gary as you make your way home after your mother's funeral. I hope everything went well.


  2. Thank you, Jean! And thank you for all the comments you've left this week. Your steady e-companionship has been a real comfort to me.


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