We have cleared out my mother’s home. She is still with us, but must live in the nursing home now. We have to sell the house.
It’s my home. It’s always been my home. I was born into that house and I’ve always had free access to it; I have never lived further than one mile from it. Even now, I live only several houses down on the other side of the street; I can look into her foyer from my foyer.
But it’s empty now. She is not there. No one is there. And all the stuff: the items that filled the home I knew, gone.
Except for what I saved, which is quite a bit. That all sits in my first floor, waiting to be gradually assimilated into my family’s life, into our home. Into our history.
There is a lot of family history. I have books from the 1870’s forward. Books with my father’s mother’s signature on the first page: this book belongs to Mary Elizabeth Holden, and her address. She would have been a teen or young adult. A postcard she wrote from Atlantic City with her photo, aged 18. It is dated 1904.
My mother’s father was presented with a book labeled to him on the inside cover while in the service in World War I: The First Battalion: The Story of the 406th Telegraph Battalion. Inside the cover is a folded page. It is a propaganda leaflet from the Germans. It begins: “The German Peoples Offers Peace.” One side is in English, the other is in French.
There are many items like this, objectively interesting as objects which preserve our past, or things which keep alive the memories of relatives long gone.
Here is one which anyone but me would have thrown in the trash. After all, we couldn’t save everything and my parents were Depression kids and hoarders. It is meaningful only to me. Some context. My father was not an overly affectionate fellow, he tended to be difficult and I must admit that, as a child, I was uneasy when he was home. He was not abusive in any way toward his children but he was an anxious person. Enough said.
It is a corner of a loose leaf sheet about 3″ x 3″. My father tore it off and kept it. In my “fancy” printing: Get me up at 6:30 to do my homework. Madelyn.
Above that, in my father’s unmistakable hand:
note in mirror