November 15, 2013
Time continues to race along. The most significant thing I did since I last wrote here an embarrassingly long time ago was take a week off work and spend it in Illinois helping my mom sort through and clean her house so it can be listed for sale. She had that house built in the mid-1970s and has been accumulating things in it ever since, plus various portions of my grandmother’s and father’s stuff ended up in it after they died, so it wasn’t a job we were going to be able to get through in just a week, but we worked hard and got two bedrooms pretty well cleared along with sizeable chunks of the living and dining rooms and a less sizeable chunk of the kitchen (which is fine, as my nephew is still living there and needs to use the kitchen stuff anyway). My brother came down from Wisconsin for a couple days and he and my nephew worked outside— trimming branches, painting the garage door, cleaning the gutters, and so on—while Mom and I continued to work inside.
At times I felt like an archaeologist, unearthing pieces of my family’s past. Things like this candy dish, one of hundreds (maybe thousands? Or maybe it just seemed like thousands?) of items I held up for my mom’s inspection and decision making that week. Apparently this was used at my wedding (27 years ago now), and the decorations certainly look like my wedding, but I had no recollection of this object in connection with my wedding.
The family photos we came across were my favorite finds. Here’s one of my mom and her mom in the 1950s, at a wedding in which my mom was a bridesmaid.
This one has my maternal grandfather sitting in between two of his fraternal order mates. My mom thinks this was the Knights of Phythias.
When I wasn’t feeling like an archaeologist, I often felt like a very ill equipped psychologist. It’s hard for my mom to give up her house and so many of her things, and I don’t know that I did a good job at making it less hard. We were still talking at the end of the week, and no one was crying, so I guess I did okay.
At the end of the week, Mr. Karen came from Michigan and we met in Chicago to see a concert and hang out with some friends. I was apparently more stressed than I realized, as it wasn’t until we were a while into the afterparty at a hotel bar a few freeway exits from the venue that I realized I didn’t have the tiny little purse I’d put my money and drivers license and credit card in for the concert. I checked my pockets. I checked around where I’d been sitting. I checked my car. No purse. Mr. Karen had to pay to get my parking ticket validated so I could go back to the venue and look there (I’d stupidly parked in the hotel garage instead of one of the office building lots nearby). When I got to the venue, there were only a few staff left, cleaning. The first one I approached pointed me to the bartender, who knew who I was. She had my little purse! Apparently I’d left it on the merch table for the opening band when I’d bought a tee and CD. I was elated! I hugged everyone I could reach and returned to our friends with a lighter heart and a more positive outlook on humanity in general, at least for the rest of that night.