Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Philosophical Problem

Mary was in town over the weekend. D Magazine flew her down to write an article on Mexican Food in Dallas. So she and Nancy went on an epic Tex-Mex binge, stuffing themselves, Dad and eventually the whole family with unreasonable numbers of tacos and cheese enchiladas.

Finally, late Saturday evening we gathered at Dad's apartment to start to go through Mom's clothing and jewelry. Being the only guy, I walked in blind. Mary and Helen have been going through Mom's stuff since they were old enough to walk. Lucky for me Mom did not have happy memories both of going through her Mother's effects and going through Dad's Mother's effects acting as Dad's agent. She told us of how unhappy these experiences were for her and her main wish was for us to go through this process amicably. She also insisted that Susan be given voice at the table.

We were lucky enough to have had a practice run at his. When they moved to New York thirty years ago, we had to split up things from their house in Dallas as they certainly wouldn't fit into their New York apartment. Still, I was not looking forward to the day of reckoning.

I turned on the light in the dining area and walked around the table to take a seat when I glanced at the sideboard and there it was. A largish blue fabric bag containing a black box. It was the box containing Mother's ashes.

It was not surprising to see it there. I knew that Helen had picked it up and had heard something that made me think that it was at Dad's apartment. We hadn't talked about the ashes much. Mother had donated her body to UT Southwest Medical School and we had been led to believe it would be sometime before we would be receiving it. The call that it was ready had caught us by surprise.

But there it was.

Only I didn't see a box, I saw Mother.

When computers can't make sense of the data, they crash and that's just what I did. I totally lost it.

Everyone put their arms around me as I sobbed. Someone put the box on the table in front of me. I untied it and looked at the box. I tried to open it, but it was sealed well. "You don't want to open it," said Susan. I knew she was thinking about Walter throwing Donnie's ashes into the wind, and put the box back in the bag, and started to calm down.

Then we all sat down and went to work divvying up the jewelry under the watchful eye of  Mother, watching over us from her box on the sideboard.

1 comment:

  1. When I saw the blue velvet bag on the sideboard–like I said, it matches the body bag they took her away in–my first impulse was to give it a hug. Helen said when she picked up the box, she felt like she was driving Mother home. Things are not only things.

    I feel bad that the jewelry thing snuck up on you. Helen and I are so familiar with that stuff. If I lived in town, the process could have been slower. Sorry.

    I do hope you felt like you and Susan got what you valued most, in money and memories. If not, we all have our own bag of marbles now, and we can trade.

    A little dig to your ribs: You're lucky not only that Mother had a terrible time with previous divvying-ups, but that your sisters are liberated women who would never consider taking your share of the jewelry just because of your gender. ;-)

    Meanwhile, don't forget to get a rider on your homeowner's insurance. Mine is costing about $280 for a year for $27,000 worth of stuff; that includes my personal things as well as the things from Mother.