Letting Go

I can hear the soft rumble of my Mom’s snoring over the incessant little German clock she has stuck on her fridge. I can hear that clock even when she’s got her Telenovelas  blasting on the tv. Banging away the minutes of our lives.

From the mountains of Utah to the swampland that is Florida. Two short flights away. What would have taken days or weeks driving time (preferred method) took 6 hours counting the layover. Of course the whole endeavor takes weeks off your life span when one factors in the stress of flying.

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Mama at Breakfast

I’ve come to Florida to help my Mom sort her shit. And boy howdy, her shit needs some sorting. She’s not a hoarder exactly she’s just not very organized. Her flat is filled with chotchkies and little bits of paper she’s written things on that she doesn’t want to forget. Then she forgets where she put the little bits of paper. You’ve never seen such chaos. It’s an exact reflection of her mind these days. I started the “sorting” soon after arriving though she is unaware. I know how that sounds but I also know she won’t miss any of the things I’ve tossed while she’s sleeping or in the shower. She doesn’t remember most of what she has. We open a box and it’s like Christmas! We’ve done some “sorting” together in addition to my solo work. The excruciating “but I might need those 20 (hideous nylon) lace curtain panels” or the 6 shower curtains for the one bathroom, or the eight 20-year-old suitcases with broken zippers. When I gently remind her that she might only need one she acquiesces but insists on offering it to her neighbor before giving it to the Goodwill. I cringe at the thought. Most of the stuff she is grudgingly willing to part with she insists on offering first to friends who she believes will appreciate and love these things as much as she does. I feel her pain. I remember my first bouts of purging and how difficult it was to let stuff go because I might someday need them. I’ve not missed a single thing. Letting go has become is easy.

 

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
 Elizabeth Bishop
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13 comments

  1. Your mom looks amazing! I think you’re wise to do some sorting when your mom is sleeping, because the letting go is hard. But oh how freeing. I hope she will be able to feel that lightness. You are the perfect person to help her.

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    • Thank you Rosemary, for getting it. I know to some it may seem cruel but I think the chaos around her is causing chaos inside her. I too hope she will feel the lightness. XXOO

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  2. Hi, Mom! You and me, we’re like sisters!
    Sigh….I do wish I had someone to come in while I’m asleep, or in the shower, to quietly toss out my little notes, go through my unruly drawers and purge my closet filled with frocks I haven’t worn since 1984.
    Thanks for the poem, Yo–I’ll have to copy it on a little piece of paper so I don’t forget! XO

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  3. Oh I feel your pain, I do. I moved my parents to Seattle when my Mom got sick and my father would not let me throw out one damn thing because “they might need it.” They never did, I threw it away later. When we bought our first RV I thought I would perish getting rid of all of the stuff I’d collected, it got easier. We just bought a small house and I found one box of “stuff” that was in storage and it’s going to a thrift shop. It’s just stuff! Thanks for posting, I love reading what you wrote.

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    • Allison, It’s crazy how we attach ourselves to things! Moving into a trailer was the best lesson in learning to let go as you well know. It does get easier but it is a process . Congratulations on the new house! A whole new chapter! That’s wonderful, may it bring you much joy. And free flowing water!!! Thanks for your support.

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  4. Your mother’s smile is radiant — and you look a lot like her! You are so good to help your mother lighten her loads — all of them. And that Bishop poem is marvelous. I remember reading it a long time ago, but it means so much more to me now, so thank you for posting it!

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  5. I’m going through this myself. We’ve been in this house 17 years and are moving to our smaller retirement home in Austin. I’ve been through several purge cycles but the task seems Herculean at times. So much stuff! Not going to miss most of it. Good luck to you and your Mom!
    Xoxo
    Barbara

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    • Dear Barbara, Congratulations on this new chapter of your life! We were in our house for 20 years and did many “mini” purges the last few years we were there but the last one was serious. Armageddon! I feel your pain! It was overwhelming at times but also freeing. And you are absolutely right, you won’t miss most of it. I marvel at the sense of ease and lightness I feel just because I have simplified my life in this way. It’s a wonderful thing! I wish you much joy and ease. Austin seems a wonderful place to live. XXOO

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  6. Your Mom has such a lovely countenance. Letting go is indeed difficult and I can relate to some of what your Mom is struggling with. The aging process can interfere with being as organized as we want to be and remembering what we should. It is so good you are assisting her with this difficult process, the transition of downsizing and sorting our shit! Much Luck to you!

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    • Thank you Dawn! It’s a challenge. This whole aging thing is not for the faint of heart! And yet we’re all headed for the boneyard! I think it’s a mistake not to look at that right in the eye. And the whole downsizing thing! Holy Frijole! It’s not for the faint of heart either. XXOO

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