Thanks for all of your supportive comments about going through Mom’s house and possessions. It’s never easy to make these trips and do this work, on several different levels, but I’m not alone in the work. My five siblings are all going through a similar process, although it is, of course, different for each of us.
I must admit that I haven’t helped make my job any easier by steadfastly refusing to dig through or clear out any of the piles of papers and other memorabilia, trinkets, and junk that I deposited in what remained “my room” over the years. All of it, like those three buttons from the Prince concert I went to at the Cow Palace with Jeremy and Donna during the Purple Rain tour, was precious to me when I deposited it. However, to say that most of my collection had significantly depreciated in value over the years would be an understatement.
Still, I’ve had to slowly go through it, item by item. That’s because my filing system, which consisted of tossing items into the bottom dresser drawer during my brief visits home, was haphazard at best. So, if I had tossed out what looked like a stack of symphony programs and ticket stubs, I would have thrown out with them the two copies of the program that I saved from Dad’s memorial service, along with the notes I spoke from during his service. I had jotted those few words down during a discussion with Brother #2 and Mom the previous night in the living room–a discussion which I remember more clearly than whatever words I managed to choke out at Dad’s service.
It was a painful process for many reasons–there’s the sheer tedium of it, the overwhelming mass of material, and the raw emotions that I unearth at unexpected times. Most are happy memories, although sometimes I’m crushed by the realization that there will be no more happy memories of Mom. And then there are the still painful remembrances of awkward teenage moments brought about by a stray note or photo.
Then there are the “Who is that guy?” moments, like this excerpt from an article in my hometown paper about myself and three other high school students. We were all directing plays for our school’s spring night of one-acts, from Albee’s Zoo Story to Chekhov’s The Proposal:
Papa Bradstein is the youngest director–a 15-year-old sophomore who is directing The Proposal. A throwback to a decade ago and 500 miles south: long, bleach-blonde hair, sunburned face, shorts and beat-up topsiders (without socks, natch). He spoke, however, with the self-criticism of a seasoned professional. “I’m too strict. I don’t think I’m constructive enough in my criticism. I guess I’m just too authoritive.”
“Authoritative,” corrects Parker [another director].
He looks over at my notes. “Yeah, authoritative.”
I mean, c’mon, we all know that I’m too strict and critical … but bleach-blonde hair? For the record, my hair color was totally natural, dude. At that point it was, anyway. Now, if we were talking about a year or so later, well, that’s a different story…
Before you pity me for the painful memories this picture might bring up, please check the sweet ride that I was sitting in at the time. I don’t believe it’s possible to have a bad memory of a ride in a car like that, even if it was just to go to Burger King for lunch in high school. The only time this memory brings me pain is when I realize just how inadequate a sunroof in a bellybutton car like an Accord is.