Apologies for being bit quiet on here lately. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I just finished working for a government department I have been at for seven years and now am in the middle of going through my dearly departed ma’s things.
Yep, Dad is moving on and selling the family home. A home that has been ours for over thirty years. It contains all our childhood memories, our joys and heartaches. It has gone from a humble ‘ex-govie’ to a suburban ‘castle’. It was mum’s work of art, especially the gorgeous garden. Mum turned this massive clay waste land into an oasis over the years.
Mum enclosed the front verandah into a beautiful sun room when my eldest son was tiny, because she wanted a toy room for all her grandkids to play in. During this construction phase mum got the news that she had a stage IV GBM brain tumour, which claimed her life 15 months later. I have shed many tears in this toy room, as mum had set it up with all the toys and books she had been collecting over the years for her grandbabies. All she wanted was to be Nanny Jilly and she built up this home with only that in mind.
It has been around 18 months since mum passed, and I totally get while dad is moving on. It is a family home and way too big for one man. It also must be incredibly hard living amongst all mum’s things. Still, it is a emotionally laden time, and going through possessions is another piece of the process. My sister and I had already done mum’s clothes soon after she passed, as Dad asked us to, but there is still a lot left.
It is weird what ‘things, stuff, items, knickknacks’, can take on meaning when they have been attached to a loved one. Having them around brings me comfort and kick starts conversations with the kids about Jilly. “Jilly gave you that toy Leo”, “let’s read one of Jilly’s books Ari” or even “don’t you break that! It is Jilly’s and very special” are all things I find myself saying.
However, you just can’t keep everything! I’m constantly trying to get closer to a slow living household, and I’m getting better at keeping my hoarding tendencies at bay. So what do you keep and what do you let go of? Here are a few things I’ve done:
I love wearing mum’s clothes (well the ones I can fit in to anyway). It is so comforting. I also keep a pair of shoes at the back door, they make me feel like she is visiting, although she never did take her shoes off when she came over and it would drive me nuts! HAHAHA
Toys and kids’ books
As discussed earlier, these are the hardest items to pass with. They are a huge connection for my boys and my heart often breaks when they use them because I wish they got to grow up with their Nana Jilly, a woman who would do anything for them and cover them in love.
I wear some of my mum’s pieces including two rings every day. Mum had great taste and I love wearing them.
Crockery, china and vases
These are probably the most common items along with jewellery, handed down from mother to daughter through the generations. Mum had A LOT of this stuff and due to being under pressure for the quick selling of the home, my sister and I had to make quick decisions regarding all these items. In the end, we divided the stash as follows:
-what my sister wanted to keep
-what I wanted to keep
– what we thought our Aunties (mum’s sisters) would like to have
-rest went to a friend who is going through a divorce and setting up a new home
I stored my boxes in my garage, for another day when I can take my time and decide what to bring into my home and what to pass on. I have vowed to use all of the fine things I do keep, as it is such a waste to only have beautiful items hidden and unused behind cupboard doors.
This process has honestly left me quite glum, especially finding mum’s diaries where she wrote about her battle for survival. However, I know by keeping and using her ‘things’ is just another element of keeping her close to us. I feel like 2015 was all about survival and 2016 is all about new beginnings. This process of cleaning out mum’s things is just another stage in the journey.
How about you? Have you got an item/s of a passed one you hold dear? Let me know by leaving a comment.