Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Mom,

Acquiring things.
Acquiring more things.
Then tossing, giving, letting go of things.

I’ve observed my mom’s love of thrift stores and yard sales and consignment stores, and over the years she’s consistently, steadily accumulated objects (as have I, truth be told). Now, at the age of 86, (and may I add for the first time) she’s on a binge. But this time, a binge of purging, not one of gathering.

She calls me and gives me the purge report of the number of  bags donated. She also unearths things of value in between the stuff that has no real history or attachment, the flotsam and jetsam of stuff grabbed on a whim or given to us years ago.

Yesterday, she found a letter I wrote when I was four.

Then I didn’t quite fully understand how letters and mailing worked yet. I wrote a Dear Mom letter on the outside of the envelope, after licking the envelope closed with my young lips. I told her how much I loved her and finished the sentence with our address and a drawn stamp and put it in a mailbox. It found its way back, thanks to a caring mailman.

I love how things you treasure resurface in the mess and clutter of our lives. What have you let set aside only to have it find its way back to you? Is there something you hope to find??

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Storm

I loved Miami as a kid. This wasn’t the cool South Beach of today. This was the era of kitchenettes, canvas and rubber rafts, plastic oranges with orange drink inside, jalousie windows. This was the Miami of the 1960’s: hot and humid; land of shuffleboard and salty sea.

I loved watching natural disasters, fully trusting that they would not affect me, and maybe naively thinking they didn’t really hurt anyone/thing. My dad occasionally indulged my awe of nature’s power, including once in Miami.

“Want to watch it come in,” he asked? So I eagerly marched up towards the picture window of our motel room as Hurricane Betsy (or Alma, or..) burst into town. The seas got dark like the sky, the wind was incredible, and no, my dad wasn’t crazy, I swear. After a little while, we backed away to safer territory.

The next morning, the happy beachfront was left a disastrous scene of nature’s trash. The coke machine that I used less than a day before, was no longer dispensing that ice cold small glass bottle. Everything had been whipped by the sandy wind, including our sandblasted car.

Why am I telling you this? Tomorrow is the anniversary of my dad’s death – over 20 years now. When I went to Yosemite last week, I had a huge rush of wishing he could be with me; that we could again take our walks in nature and be quiet and listen and see the world a little differently for those moments together. I was surprised by how momentarily overwhelmed I was by the lack of his presence. Then I looked at the calendar, and remembered. As if my body has some internal clock that knows when it’s close to mid-October, and close to that day that he “fell asleep” almost on his bowl of melting ice cream, a victim of sepsis/poisoning, not the Parkinson’s he had struggled with for so many years.

So here’s to memories – the weird ones, the sad ones, the beautiful ones. I carry him with me always, and will even eat a pork chop tonight, just in memory of him.