Wednesday, October 1, 2014

This Is Harder

My sister sent me a text, reminding me of a late winter afternoon, a decade ago.  We'd spent another in an endless series of days clearing out our ancestral manse. A split level with an attic and a basement and a couple of crawl spaces strewn around for good measure, its contents seemed to grow exponentially with every load we removed.

It seemed that we would never finish the task, that G'ma would never figure out who was who in the photos and portraits, that old memories like on-too-long bandaids would continue to pull at our heartstrings, that gloomy clouds would forever surround our heads.  My sister remembers standing on the curbstone, listening to me sigh from the front porch, "This is harder than when Daddy died."

Letting go of the physical spaces became easier as I grew older, but the home my parents occupied for nearly 60 years has a special place in my heart.  Untwisting the paper clips Daddooooo used in the shed instead of S-hooks, folding G'ma's handkerchiefs into neat piles, sliding down the stairs from the attic when no one was looking.... I can conjure those images just by closing my eyes.

It was hard to walk away. 

My mother's estate has settled, the proceeds are in the process of distribution, and I opened an account with my mother's money. It will be spent on everyday expenses, I'm sure, but it will also add a little bit of joy to our lives.  TBG won't have to squish into a teeny coach seat as he flies to see his granddaughter next month; I used some of G'ma's money to buy him an upgrade. 

He'll think of her as he boards early and uncurls his cramped self into what passes for luxury on American Airlines.  It's just a fancy seat in coach, because G'ma was not foolish enough to pay for Business or First Class for a less-than-three-hour flight.  But she will enjoy traveling in semi-comfort with her favorite son-in-law (he's her only son-in-law), and he will enjoy having her along for the ride.

That's the kind of thing I know my mother would appreciate. She was always in favor of spending it while she could watch us enjoy it, rather than having us toast her after she was gone.  We had lots of fun spending my inheritance while she was alive, going to plays and dinner and flying off to weddings in LA.  Yes, I would reassure her, she had enough. 

And she did.  And I took my share and put it in the bank.... and I nearly cried as I signed the paperwork.  No, I would not like the lovely bank officer to take the check and deposit it for me.  No, I did not want to wait right here while she took care of it.  I wanted to walk the check up to the counter and talk to the friendly teller.  I wanted her to know that this was my mother's money, because it couldn't be just another deposit. 

It had to be special.  It's the last change that will occur in our relationship. I'm in no hurry to be done.


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