Sunday, June 27, 2010

cleaning closets (lyn)

It’s an overcast day and I suggest to my mother that we clean some of her upstairs’ closets and drawers, something she’s been wanting to do since last summer. 

There are three bedrooms upstairs and we begin with the red room, so named for the red wallpaper that has been in there since the house was built in 1978.  Whenever I suggest changing it, or maybe just painting the room a shade of white or pale yellow, my mother always says, “Why?  I like it the way it is.”

There are two closets in this room, and two chests of drawers.  The upstairs has become the catch-all for the clothes my mother cannot bring herself to get rid of, but I’m sure never wears.  I know she needs a throw-away coach, and I’m well qualified for that job.  But it’s tougher than I think.  Every item has a backstory, and most items require some level of coercion before they can be tossed.  “I wear that on my morning walks.  Don’t throw it out.”  “But it’s an ugly jacket from 20 years ago.  You’ll never wear it again.”  “I use it on cold days.  Keep it.”  “What about this faded Dunkin’ Donuts T-shirt?”  “No.  Keep it.  Jeannie thinks it will be valuable one day." (Jeannie used to work for Dunkin’ Donuts so she would know!).  On my prodding, my mom lets me throw out old Discovery and Animal Planet shirts (I used to work for them and do not think these shirts will be valuable one day).  Among the clothes going into the keep pile are a beautiful pink baby jacket from when I was an infant, and a similarly small tattered dress from when my mother was about two.  Also not thrown out are clothes from my grandmother, a peignoir set from my mother’s honeymoon, and a dress and a few sweaters that my mother either sewed or knitted (she was a master at both).  I also find a couple of pairs of running shorts from years ago that fit me again and still look good. 

By the time we are done, we have filled five large garbage bags, and have decided to do the other two rooms when I return in August. 

It’s a cloudy day, but my last one here.  So I go to the beach to sit and read, and leave behind a lifetime of memories sitting on the red room’s floor.

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