The Cleaning

Everyone, including grief counselors, have told me to take my time. For the most part I have been avoiding it, figuring there was no rush.

Now, two and a half months after my mom died, I am finally turning my attention to the process of going through my mom’s things. My initial strategy had been to tackle the non-emotional stuff—the accumulated things in the garage that had little or no emotional or sentimental value.

Rather, when the time came, I started with one of the most intimate things—her work. My mother was an avid and talented devotee of crochet and needlepoint. She made gorgeous, detailed works. Every surface in the house displays one of her creations. She had works commissioned, including a winery for which she made a gigantic crocheted tablecloth. It took her three years to complete. I sometimes wonder where that is now, as the owners have both passed away.

In my own dining room in SF, I have the last piece she made for me, a beautifully embroidered cloth with grape clusters.

She had boxes and boxes of threads, magazines, needles, and other supplies. Most of them were imported from Portugal, of the finest quality. So I have been organizing them, preparing to give them to my aunt. I have to fight off the fleeting thought that I might pick up these hobbies. But I know I’d much rather spend a day getting sweaty on a hiking trail than on the demure hobby of needlepoint.

Now I am down to the basket she kept beside her spot on the love seat. This is the hardest part, because it represent the works-in-progress. The symbol of unfinished business. RIght now I am thinking I might just go through it, tossing what is obvious miscellaneous stuff. Then setting it aside for later, until I’m ready.

Mom's projects
Mom’s projects

And I take a deep breath again. And think about going to the garage.

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