Sunday, November 19, 2017

Facing the facts

There are phases of growing older that I noticed in my mother as she aged.  One thing that particularly bothered me was the way she clung to "stuff", insignificant items we all knew she would never need or use again.  I even saw her cry at the idea of leaving items behind when she and Daddy were moving out here to our place.  "I'm having to give up everything," she said, alluding to the fact that Daddy's cancer would eventually take him away from her.

We moved boxes of old double-knit clothing she'd bought at garage sales with the intention of cutting them up to use as quilt pieces, and she did make quite a few quilts after that.  But some of the stuff really made no sense at all.  However, we designated one little outbuilding as her storage space.  Most all of it was still there when she moved on to senior apartments, piled high with boxes.  From there, she placed herself in the nursing home of her choice, and that little shed remained full of her "stuff" until her death, at which time it was all hauled away as trash.  The only thing of any value among all that junk was a can of motor oil, which Cliff kept and used.

Yesterday I had a revelation that made me understand what prompted Mother's unwillingness to part with seemingly useless things.  Cliff is always looking for space to store various tractor parts and seldom-used tools, things he will likely need at some point but doesn't want the clutter where he has to look at it. Yesterday as he donned his coveralls to go outside, he said, "Hadn't I might as well tear that stanchion out of the corner of the barn?"

A panicky feeling clutched my heart as I hesitated, then said, "Well... we might need it sometime to restrain an animal we need to work with, so as long as I'm raising a calf or two each year, maybe you should leave it there."

It only took a minute or two for me to recall my mother crying over junk she deemed as precious, and to then see what I was doing.  I told Cliff, "Never mind.  Go ahead and take it out.  My problem is that taking the stanchion out reminds me I will never milk another Jersey cow, and that's silly, because of course I won't.  You can have that space."

Can you believe as I typed that last paragraph, my eyes teared up?  Me!  I don't cry, hardly ever.  Even at funerals of loved ones.  I just don't.  But somehow the idea of admitting I will never have another milk cow makes me cry; that's really pathetic and self-centered of me, but there you have it.  

I understand now how Mother was feeling, and her motivation for those feelings; I hope God will pass my apology along to her.  This is one of countless times that I've glanced heavenward and said, "I'm sorry, Mother."

Getting older means giving up things as it becomes necessary.  I still have my mobility, and a husband by my side.  I have much to be thankful for and I feel so very blessed.  I need to remember to count the things I can still do and rejoice, rather than mourning for things I'm unable to accomplish these days.

Peace.  I hope you find it easier to let go of cherished skills and talents as they're lost than my mom and I have.

On another note, in the previous entry somebody called to my attention that music on CD followed after cassettes, not 8-tracks.  So probably that was a cassette player in our pickup back in the 70's.  


  1. Life is a matter of holding on and letting go...Getting older does mean giving up things as it becomes necessary. I've cried many tears as I've let go of so much. But it's true what they can't take it with you.

  2. That was me! I still have some cassettes that I should get rid of. And a cassette player. I'm having trouble getting rid of camping gear. I won't tent camp again but many memories are tied up in that stuff. (but it's taking up a lot of room in the garage) It's sad to think that certain stages of our life are completely over.

  3. nothing wrong with shedding a few tears over something lost that you loved.

  4. A beautiful post, Donna - especially since I can identify with so much of it.

  5. I completely understand this. In the past few years I have really come to understand my beloved mother more than I could have ever imagined when I was younger. I think realizing that it is a natural thing to want to hold onto or mourn the "things" we lose as we get older makes it a bit easier to let go, because it IS natural. So don't be too hard on yourself.


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