I sat surrounded by my mother's things and thought "My mother is in a board and care home in Woodland, all of her remaining earthly belongings are here, and her brain is--who knows where." It made me feel very sad.
Jeri and Ned, bless them, spent the day cleaning everything out of my mother's apartment at Atria. They brought most of it here, with the idea of either donating it to someone or having a garage sale...or both.
The stuff that was not worth anything to anyone they took on a separate trip to the dump.
They did it all, knowing that I would be worthless in trying to carry furniture, and so that Walt would not have to do it. I loved them both for all of their work.
Today they are working to carry all of our books and bookcases downstairs and add them to the pile in the living room so that we can go through them seriously and decide which we want to keep and which we are willing to give away.
It's a herculean task and for anyone who wonders why you have children THIS is why you have children. Well, this and the joy they provide all the time for lots and lots of things. But at times like this when it all seems so overwhelming I am very glad to have children who love me, whom I love and who are generous enough with their time and energies that they can help us with what has seemed, to us over these years, as an overwhelming, perhaps insurmountable task.
Ned, in trying to create a living space for himself and Marta, when they move here eventually, has made the insurmountable mountable. He wants to have a garage sale, maybe in April, but I pointed out that in April students will be getting rid of stuff and going home and that if we wait until August or September, we will have better success, so we will live with the mounds until then.
Yesterday we attended the funeral of Pat Hayes, one of the friends who died this week (I learned of the death of another, a woman I worked with for 12 years in our medical office family, this morning).
It was a beautiful service and made me feel the beauty of "family." The church, a small church, was packed with people from the many aspects of her life, including aspects of our lives with all of the Lawsuit family there. And I do think of them as "family." I looked around at all these middle aged men, some of them balding, and remembered when they were young and vigorous and jumping all over many stages across California playing with the band.
But old habits die hard and when space became tight in the church, Ned was the one who folded up some chairs and moved them to the side so newcomers could sit while the older, more able bodied among them would stand at the back.
I smiled when I wondered how many years Ned and his friends have been moving furniture for gigs? This may be the first funeral gig, but a gig nonetheless. (And probably not the last funeral gig.)
When I went to the reception, I checked my phone and found this picture:
This is a picture of the Eldervilla family at "family time," as Sandy described it. There is one more resident, who I think is unable to leave his room, but these are the girls and I love seeing them gathered together like this.
My mother was always the gregarious one and, coming from a family of 10, always used to being around people. Atria was not conducive to her making friends, especially with her Alzheimers, and this place obviously is, since everyone is in about the same condition that she is and yet the smiles on their faces tell you how much they enjoy getting together. Plus, they are the same people every day, whether they ever learn each other's names or not.
This week the notion of "family" looms very large in my mind.
After we left the funeral, we drove to Walt's brother's house, which is on the way home. Jeri hadn't seen Norm since she'd been here and Alice Nan is always happy to get together with both of her brothers and it was a fun evening spent over pizza and laughter.