What is left behind when we’re gone? What is left behind is shared times and memories. And with time, and the telling, those memories remain alive. Those aren’t new sentiments but it doesn’t hurt to say it anyway.
Cruel Wife has some things she wanted me to post, and I will do that shortly. Since that material is at this moment being written by her, I figured I’d take a moment to say a few words and then tack on her stuff when it is done. It’s a first – a LK/CW co-authorage.
Here is what I would say.
The last night before her folks left, CW’s dad went out to the trailer to get some rest. He was tired and I don’t blame him – he did a lot of work on our remodel while I was at work.
BCCFN was talking to CW and somehow the topic of dark matter came up and before I knew it, CW’s mom and I were talking about the Cosmological Constant, dark matter and dark energy, the evidence for a closed universe, background energy… and come to find out, she took it in her head one day to get ahold of some lectures and was working her way through the series. Should one be surprised at this? I mean she was a radiochemist for years, and it is obvious she was no dummy, none of her daughters are – all of ’em too intelligent for comfort. But BCCFN… she was doing all this and studying other topics, was here for seventeen days and only mentioned it at the very end, the very last night. And my jaw dropped.
There is this brain-metaphor thing that describes the surprise and respect I had after that, and I don’t think I could quite define it. I’ve been told on several occasions that I do not suffer fools lightly, and the flip side to that coin is I have a great deal of respect for intelligence. This is not to say I have only value for some number like IQ and that makes for superiority or anything, but it does mean I do place high value on people who have done or do things with gifts that they were given – there’s not a one in CW’s family that isn’t gifted (and kind of dangerous in a battle of wits if you let your guard down). And BCCFN, as nail-bitingly maddening she could be at times, managed to surprise the hell out of me and gain a measure of respect. And she never let on. She was about as humble and self-deprecating as a person could be and didn’t stop being curious. I was bummed when she decided to go out to bed because the conversation when she relaxed was infinitely more interesting than observations about my salt intake or how much oil I put in the stir fry.
A funny, odd, and ultimately quite interesting duck, my mother-in-law.
Ok, I’ll quit talking now let you read the CW stuff.
Simple, silly attachments. (Aren’t those usually the best ones?)
As many of you know, I lost my mom today. It took everyone by surprise. I thought she’d live another two decades at least, and wondered if she might just outlive us all. She was in remarkably good health for a 75 year old lady, thus the complete shock. We are still waiting to find out what happened. I asked LK to share a story for me. This how I deal with grief, by writing down my thoughts and memories of the loved one departed.
Just last night, LK and I had been going through boxes we’d stored for years. We set aside a number of unimportant dishes in one of my boxes freshly emptied of “memories” that I couldn’t remember. The dishes were slated for the consignment shop.
I took those dishes to the consignment shop this morning despite receiving the bad news. I needed to “just keep swimming” (for those of you who might be Pixar heathen, that is a quote from “Finding Nemo”). As I stood at the counter asking the hired help to sell them or donate them (I didn’t really care at that moment), it dawned on me that I was looking at Mom’s handwriting on the side of the box.
“Records,” it said.
I distantly heard the lady asking me if I wanted my box back while my thoughts were speeding me back 25 years. It was the summer before my freshman year in college. I remember scrounging everywhere for packing boxes, and I still didn’t have enough. I asked Mom if she had any extra. I distinctly remember her telling me “Well, these are some of my GOOD apple boxes…but I guess you can have them.” She gave up several of her long-term storage boxes so that I’d have a place to put my childhood memorabilia. The box in my hands had been with me for the last 25 years, keeping my childhood treasures safe. Still bearing the title “Records” on the lid and the inner box, written in Mom’s handwriting. I had to keep that box.
I returned home several hours later. Never had a shopping trip been so painful, looking for a dress suitable for Mom’s funeral. As I went in the house, it slowly dawned that I didn’t have the box. The whimsical desire to save the box suddenly became urgent. I kept telling myself “It’s just an apple box, for pete’s sake. If its gone, its gone.” Still, I got in the car again and backtracked to the consignment shop, only to find it closed. The lights were still on, though, so I knocked on the door. I was lucky; the owner was still there. Lo and behold, she still had my box, too. Undamaged. You would have thought I’d found something very special to my mom rather than an empty cardboard box. To me, I did. A precious memory of her had returned to me because of that box. It might be a mundane and largely inconsequential grocery produce box, but it was given to my by a dear lady 25 years ago as she launched me into my adult life. That makes it precious.
My mother would be flabbergasted by the importance this silly box has taken on today. All the same, I’m thankful to have it back. My childhood treasures are going back into that box, to be safely stored (God willing) for the next 25 years of my life. Then again, who knows? In 10 to 12 years, Lemurita and Hacker-boy will be getting ready to embark on the next stage of their journeys. Maybe it will be my turn to donate one of MY good apple boxes to the cause. If so, they’ll get more than a storage box. They will get this story, too.
God bless you all and thank you for the well wishes.