Siblings gather over the Christmas holiday. I stay at my parents’ house with sisters who have come from out-of-town, pretending that I, too, am an out-of-town sister. It is a sacred time of togetherness, one we will never get back in the same way, again.
Mom pulls each of her children aside to pass the jewelry she has selected for them. Her jewels and gems are thoughtfully divided. Costume jewelry is left to be sorted through, pieces that are meaningful selected by those who care to have them.
Daughters help sort through purses and drawers, clipping hair barrettes to their hair and stringing necklaces around their necks. Each day is a grand day to play dress-up. I wonder if Mom notices I am wearing something from her closet.
I apologize for not asking first. It is understood that there is no need to apologize. We have Mom’s undivided attention, and she laughs and plays with us, and it is so bittersweet.
We bring papers and objects and articles of clothing to her, and she tells us what to do with them. The sorting, organizing, and purging is a collective effort. We notice and name how each of is both similar to and different from Mom and Dad. We bless and honor our unique blends of each.
It is mostly a giant Memory game ~ putting like with like, moving things around, asking questions. Remembering.
We write down pearls of wisdom Mom speaks and remind her it is not time for her to leave us until she has done the very last thing on the list. We laugh deeply and cry until no more tears come and love fiercely. This good woman, our mother, our human mother lives each day with us to the fullest.
We sing, voices blending as only sibling voices do, and Mom notes the depth, richness, and beauty of our sound. Your voices are growing stronger.
The week goes too fast, precious time never to return, and from the depths of my soul I am grateful for a mom who, even as she is dying, is making room to live.
On the heels of my post about order and how I experience the show Tidying Up, I stand in the kitchen set staring into an open metal cabinet full of games. A mashup of titles from Honeybee Tree to Stratego fill the shelves.
Paralyzed, I stand motionless. This is a familiar feeling when entering a place of downsizing and decluttering. Theory enters my mind. Idealism. Memories.
In theory, I can pull out a game a day, week, or another set time with the family to decide if we really enjoy it, or even play it. In fact, on this unexpected snow day, I could gather everyone around for a fun downsizing activity.
Let’s try playing these board games together and see what we want to keep and what we want to get rid of!
Reality quickly enters the equation, and the energy that would take drains me before I mention the idea. How often do we actually play board games together, anyway?
Idealism jumps in with its voice. It might not be long before another generation of littles is running around here. They might like playing Honeybee Tree, and you might have more patience threading the branches through the little holes with them than you did with your own children.
Memories flood as past, present, and future collide. Art Lotto was a favorite of the first generation of littles.Memory was a game I hoped I could enjoy with my littles as much as I enjoyed my mom playing it with me. I know that missing Stratego piece is out here somewhere. If we get more clay then Cranium could be fun to play again like it was around the table of the Green Street house.
Caught in the undertow, trying to swim parallel to the shore, I pick up an item that is clearly to declutter. It is not a game but a dinosaur kit. I am certain we do not need it anymore. Opening it, I remember that my youngest has an overdue dinosaur project. These plaster of paris pieces will fit the bill perfectly.
I pick up a shallow cardboard box being saved to organize things in a drawer (ala Konmarie Method) and call my daughter to the table to assemble the dinosaur.
The process reminds her of another project, a diorama, also due. She runs to her room and brings down something she has saved since first grade.
I’m glad I saved this. It will work perfectly.
The theme is frontier, and she asks about the Lincoln Logs. I find the bin and bring them to the table. It is like Christmas.
Can I take these up to my room when I finish making the log cabin?
Two projects are checked off of the list, courtesy of items we saved for way too long. It is a good thing we did not get rid of that dinosaur kit, the cardboard box, the old school project, and the Lincoln Logs . . . right?
Hence the bind.
Yes, it is a grace to have those things appear when we need them, but can I trust my needs to be met without having to account and project for every possible option and outcome? Can I release feelings of fear and scarcity to make room for possibility and provision?
Can I let things go?
On the way to school the following day, teenage brother sits in the passenger front seat, headphones on. Noticing the dinosaur in his sister’s lap, he recalls when he got the kit on a family vacation one year. He is the one who cast the pieces when he was ten or eleven years old.
I have no memory of this. None. We laugh and remember more of the story together. I express gratitude for the help he provided these many years later. I think of him at the time he got the kit, older brother of three younger sisters and little guy to four teenage siblings.
No one has an easy place in this family!
The projects are back home and sit on the dining room table. I look at them as I write, allowing myself space for things to be out of place while ordering my thoughts. I do not resolve the game cabinet situation.
Honeybee Tree and Stratego are keepers, for now. Memory is not in the cabinet when I go out to take a picture for the post. I must have let that one go already. The others will hold the space as I work through feelings, practice, and grow in my ability to let go.