My Mother’s Paradox

Moving through the process of clearing my parents’ house yesterday…next up, the audiotape collection, from classical to easy-listening to my mother’s conservative political tapes: Oliver North’s “My Dream for America”; a titleless Pat Robertson tape; home recordings of Nixon’s resignation speech; Ronald Reagan’s acceptance speech; a birthday honoring of William F. Buckley with a talk by Leo Buscaglia on Love on the other side (perfect representation of the paradox that was my mother).

Feeling her presence so clearly, I ask: what should I be doing with these? A quick answer: keep the ones that resonate, Freecycle the rest.

I put the box of tapes up on Freecycle with a brief inventory of its contents by category: take some or all. A quick response: “Ted” will take all, pickup tomorrow AM. I feel a moment’s mad clutching – this was food for my mother’s conservative persona and religious belief; the home recordings were made out of deep devotion. Those tapes were a key to understanding her (and perhaps communicating with others likeminded); should I be letting them go? Who knows what these artifacts of her devotion would feed in Ted?

I check in with her presence and feel a reassuring “It’s OK.” Ted will do whatever he’ll do. This letting-go, stripping-away, is about defining Mom’s legacy, the imprint of her paradox, in my life. I need no more than a touchpoint for that…and later on, not even that much.

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