Wednesday, November 30, 2011

my mother's purse (m)

On Thanksgiving evening, as I was leaving my older brother Joe's home, he turned to me and said, "Would you please cancel Mom's Citibank MasterCard?"  Joe is the executor of my mother's estate.  This is the only thing undone.  He's been getting statements with zero charges (naturally) and zero balances but wants the paperwork to stop.  I explained that he could do it on the form but he's a tad anal and wants this done "the right way."  He has asked me several times to do this.

The card is in my mother's purse which is in my front hall closet where it has been since December 12, 2010, the day she died.  I can't bear to look at it, let alone go in there. Her purse was her one signature accessory.  Always the same style.  Not even sure if it was real leather.  She didn't care. She needed a small bag with lots of compartments and easy access.  It was so her.  On the few times I'd gone into the closet, I averted my eyes and pretended it wasn't there.

Tonight, I take the purse out and start to go through it.  T and Harrison are asleep, each knocked out by Nyquil.  The house is quiet.  It is a good time to do this.  If I have to cry, I am by myself.

If eyes are the window to the soul, what does a woman's purse say about her? 

The purse is stuffed in typical fashion.  A plastic baggie of Lifesaver mints...some sticks of Doublemint gum (she only gave 1/2 a stick at a time if you asked for gum).  My mother was obsessed with having fresh breath.  She would judge people with bad breath ("The breath on him! I had to get the hell away!").  Remembrance cards from deceased loved ones (her husband, her mother, her sister).  I wade through tons of coupons for Kohl's (20% off everything!) and Bed, Bath and Beyond.  A gift card from Marshall's.  No credit card.

I keep looking.  A tube of lipstick which I gave her (the color didn't work for me or her but she didn't care and wouldn't waste a tube of lipstick).  Some unused Kleenex.  A laminated clover for good luck.  A newspaper article about the latest innovation in aortic valve replacement (the doctor said she wasn't sick enough to do that procedure...apparently, she was).  No credit card.

I check the zippered pockets.  I find the Coach wallet that my friend Eric gave to my friend Michele one Christmas.  She gave it to me.  I gave it to my mother.  I open it up.  $4 and some change.  No credit card.

More coupons, these are for Shaw's supermarket.  Nothing she would buy for her home but I recognize these are items my family uses.  She had been saving these coupons for us.  I get a lump in my throat.  No credit card.

I check the last zippered compartment.  I almost missed it as it was a "hidden" compartment.  I see a small black wallet that my nephew Chris bought at the little country store near Sam's college when we visited Sam together during Sam's freshman year.

I open it up.  Ah, at last.  The MasterCard.  Just the MasterCard and nothing else.

I turn the card over to get the number to call.  Then, I turn it back to the front.  The expiration date catches my eye:  11/30/11.  Today's date.

She beat me to it. 

Through my tears, I smile as I hear her say, "If you want something done, do it yourself."

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