My mom’s house is now completely cleaned out.  The house is as bare as it was the day my parents moved in.  This time, however, the excitement of the possibilities of an empty house was not there.

During the final check to make sure I didn’t forget anything that will be in the way of the plasterers, painters and carpet layers, I found, in the back corner of a cabinet in my parent’s bedroom, a plastic bag containing a note and some dried flowers.  “2/18/46 Wedding bouquet”, is what the note said.  The flowers are in pretty bad condition, but they obviously were of great importance to my mom because she brought them along on probably two dozen (dad was in the Marine Corps) moves.

Even though they were in very bad shape, I decided to save the flowers.  As I mentioned I was going to save them, my wife gave me “the look”.  When I told her what I was going to do, “the look” stopped and said she would like to go with me.  Next Saturday, early in the morning when the breezes are calm, I’m going to the veteran’s cemetery and place those flowers on mom’s and dad’s grave markers.

Voices From the Past.

I found more memories at mom’s house; a VHS tape labeled Christmas 2002 and an audio cassette tape labeled June 1975.

The VHS tape was of my family opening gifts on Christmas day 2002.  The audio tape was made at the June 1975 reunion of my father’s family.

On the Christmas video tape, my wife had dark brown hair, I had dark hair and only a tiny bald spot, our daughter was four years old and my father, mother and father-in-law were all alive.   It was amazing looking back 15 years.

On the audio tape were the voices of all of my dad’s siblings, all of his siblings’ children and even a few grandchildren of his siblings.  Each person said “Hi” to the family, their name, how they were related and a few words about the family reunion.

As the tapes played, I was surprised that I recognized the voices of the people speaking. I suppose this isn’t unusual for my mom, dad and father-in-law, but  I’m not sure what to think about me instantly recognizing the voices of folks I met only once, more than 40 years ago.

Near the End

This past weekend, I was going to finish up getting the stuff out of my mom’s house, but I could not.  The painters had taped and masked off the doors and I did not want to mess up their work.

So, today I stopped by and got a bunch of china packed up.  According to the notes with the china, one set was used at the head table of my grandparent’s wedding (married in 1915) and the other set was used at my parent’s wedding (married in 1946).  102 and 71 years respectively. It’s hard to believe, yet I have both marriage certificates.

I have the china, a dish hutch to hold the china, a bed, a beautiful glass front bookcase and some pictures to get out of the house sometime before April 25.

That’s it.  Nothing more.

The house is now painted, the roof was inspected and the few needed minor repairs were made and most of the outdoor landscaping is done.  Starting next week, the carpet will be replaced and the interior will be painted….then it will be time to sell the house.

When the house is sold, Mom’s and Dad’s life will have been “cataloged and put up on the shelf”.

Prom Night

My wife and I attended high school prom last night.  She was a faculty chaperone and I was, even though we have no children there, a parent chaperone.

Fortunately the specified dress for the adults’ was business formal, so there was no need to go out and purchase or rent formal or semi-formal wear.   I used to have tailored formal wear (I looked sharp in the white tie, and tailcoat), but that was when I was in high school and my body shape has changed a bit since then….and the clothing was long ago sold.

I always like doing this kind of thing because it gives me the chance to see young people nearing the point in their lives where they will be heading out to make their mark upon the world.  And, I’m comforted because I think the mark will be good.

More Memories

I’ve written about my cleaning out my mom’s house.  It has not been easy.  Everything in the house is stuff I remember as a child…and I’m having to get rid of a lot of it.  I’m glad this is not my childhood home.

My friends have been wonderful.  They, and their adult children, have taken a lot of the stuff to blend into their own homes.  Like us, they have gotten rid of a lot of really cheap stuff (pressed wood covered with wood grain paper) and replaced it with the oak, maple, cherry wood furniture from my parents’ house.  I consider them family by choice, so this is a perfect way to take care of my “problem”.

Some things are so sentimental that I must get rid of them.

For instance.  In an old military footlocker was a crocheted afghan.  After I recovered from the  shock of finding it, I showed it to my mother in law.  She said it was obvious someone had put their very best effort into it as there was not a thread loose or out of place.  The afghan was crocheted in 1983 by my elderly neighbor as a wedding present for my fiancee and I.  Plans were changed and the afghan went from being a wedding present to being used during my fiancee’s “journey” through hospice care.


The other thing I found was a slide photograph taken in April, 1983.  In the image, an old lady is standing and leaning against her walker.  She has her hands outstretched and is putting something into the cupped hands of a young man that is standing in front of her.  The young man has a surprised look on his face.  Standing next to the young man is a young woman that looks like she’s about to cry.

The old woman is my then widowed 95 year old grandmother.  I am the young man and the young woman is my brand new fiancee.

It was Easter Sunday, 1983 and the two of us had invited our parents to Easter dinner so we could tell them of our plans to get married.  When things settled down after our announcement, my grandmother got my attention.

Grandmother.  “She doesn’t have a ring.  She needs a ring.”

Me.  “I know.  She was accepted to medical school and we decided to skip the ring and save the money to pay for tuition.”

Grandmother, removing her wedding and engagement rings from her finger and my grandfather’s wedding ring from her thumb.   “She *NEEDS* a ring.  Here.  You need these more than I do.  Please.  Take them.”

I will keep the slide photograph.  It doesn’t take up much room and can easily be stored in a shoe box with other photographs.  My mother in law is going to take the afghan.  As beautiful as it is, there is no way I could look at it every day….plus I don’t want to make my wife compete with a ghost.

Some people say that is a different chapter in my life. It is really more of a different book.  Book 1 and Book 2.  Book 1 has “The End” written in it and most of the time stays on the shelf.  Book 2 is on the coffee table and is read/written in on a daily basis.


Flu Over the Cuckoo Nest

It started last Saturday when I went to the airport to pick up my brother and sister-in-law.  They flew in, I took them to a truck rental place where they rented a truck then it was off to mom’s house to  help pack up stuff that they wanted.

I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday and by Sunday it was all I could do to help move furniture and load the truck.  I got home and the chills started.  103.2F/39.6C was what the fever thermometer indicated.

No work on Monday.  I stayed in bed and felt like “death warmed over”.  The only thing I got done was to make noise coughing.

No work on Tuesday.  I stayed in bed and felt “just plain dead”. I think I ran out of energy to cough.

Wednesday I worked from home.  I stayed in bed, listened to 6 hours of conference calls on my cellphone headset and felt like a zombie….I was dead, but I could slowly stumble out to the kitchen to get something to drink.

Today I worked from home and I may have done some useful work.   I’m a slightly faster zombie now. My head still hurts and my muscles still ache, but I have a sense of humor again…”What did the one casket tell the other casket?”  “Is that you coffin?”

Yes, I did get the flu shot.

While in bed, Cat stayed by my right side, Dog 1 stayed by my left side and Dog 2 stayed at my feet….all guarding me against everything that was evil.

Anniversary and Potential Retirement

March 4, 1989, at around 12:30pm, my wife and I exchanged wedding vows.  The past 28 years have gone by in what seems like a flash.  We were looking at our wedding pictures and we looked so young back then. 🙂

Also my wife and I have been reviewing our financial situation and we have come to the conclusion that we can retire at any time.  The “one size fits all, but probably not very well” retirement calculators all indicate we have almost twice as much money as we supposedly need to retire at age 55.  We are age 56 and 57.

My wife is going to teach one more year and I’m going to work until January.