Blues night…Dar Williams on Spotify as I de-clutter the kitchen fordonation runs tomorrow. Maybe it’s the rain, maybe it’s the last of Mom and Dad’s odds and ends on the front porch of the old house to go to the dump…fraying carpets, ancient air conditioners, mattresses…the last push of transition.
My son’s old bedroom is packed with stored energy, memory-weighted artifacts to sort, keep, donate or gift. I look at these things and see them as Mom displayed them, hear her reading her writing to me for feedback, see Dad jerry-rigging his unique creations from bits and snips…
I look at the boxes stacked around the dining room, feel a heavy lump of grief in my chest. The past is a vortex that could pull me in; where is the razor’s edge of integration versus submersion; how do I reclaim my forgotten past, discover my parents’ lost history, honor remembrance and retool legacy, while gaining a perspective on a lifetime’s conscience-driven role of family misfit, a grasp on the work of today and the demands of tomorrow?
OK. Start with simple things. Open up space, open up clarity and energy. Open up time to grieve and let go. Listen to the inner guidance on what each piece wants to offer to me or to unknown others.
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.