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EndNotes

Moving the past into another’s present

This photo released by The Nature Conservancy in June  2008 shows Holland Lake in the center of the Swan Valley, near Missoula. Plum Creek Timber, which owns the land, is moving into the real estate business, and a Forest Service proposal would make developing forestland into subdivisions easier.  (File Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
This photo released by The Nature Conservancy in June 2008 shows Holland Lake in the center of the Swan Valley, near Missoula. Plum Creek Timber, which owns the land, is moving into the real estate business, and a Forest Service proposal would make developing forestland into subdivisions easier. (File Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

I spent 65 minutes with my mom touring her condo. She resides in an assisted-living facility so we weren’t actually in her condo. She was in her power recliner at her new home and I was in the Pacific Northwest. But she called and said, “Now I want to go through my condo in my mind and tell you what I want to do with the stuff that remains.” Really, 65 minutes, and she didn’t miss one inch of the place.

When I asked about the lovely buffet that holds her china, she said, “Oh, worth nothing. We bought that for $100 decades ago and when you stand back and look at it, you will see that the doors don’t really line up. Gotta deal on it. Give it to Bridging, someone can use it.”

The buffet and other items we will donate to the impressive furniture bank – the largest in North America. With the buffet will go our mother’s dresser, our dad’s chest of drawers, and the dining room table and chairs where we ate Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday dinners as well as entertained friends. And for those three pieces of furniture, I am writing little notes to accompany them. An action that serves only me, I know.

“We hope you enjoy this table where four little girls ate Christmas Eve dinners, eager for Santa. Our faces in the glow of candles changed over the years from tiny tykes to young women. We laughed, argued, debated and sang Happy Birthday a zillion times. We keep the memories and send you hope for your own family to create wonderful memories…the dresser held mysterious mommy items, like bras and cloth handkerchiefs. On top was a mirrored tray with perfume – Prince Matchibelli that Dad called, “Prince, scratch my belly!” Once I sneaked a squirt and was busted, “Who has been into my perfume?” The dresser belonged to a wise woman who loved raising her four daughters. “The best years of my life,” she tells us. May you place your belongings and dreams inside…The tall dresser belonged to our dad. He would come home from a long day at work and empty his pockets. I loved hearing the clink of coins that would go from his pocket to the dresser top. It meant he was home and ready to listen to my day. He loved coming home to his adoring girls. The last few years the dresser held documents our mom assembled, giving explicit instructions about what to do in various situations. Her directive to pass this dresser onto Bridging is her wish. May the tall dresser provide a place for your belongings.

We keep stuff because stuff is practical, but when items cease to serve us, we may long to keep them because of the emotional connection to them; we keep college books, stuffed animals from childhood and furniture where we grew into our best selves. But to hold onto the items deprives others from practical resources that may serve their dreams as well as their practical needs. Mom taught us well – and so we let go of the items, and keep the memories in our hearts.

(S-R archive photo: Holland Lake in the center of the Swan Valley, near Missoula)




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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.