Little Treasures Everywhere

Whenever I was three years old, my parents built a house in the country where we promptly moved right out of the city neighborhood where I was born.  Little did I know that in three more years time my father would pass away and life as I knew it would totally change.

These were the 60's.  Just the beginning of the women's liberation movement and moms going into the workforce.  When my dad died, my mother had to return to work.  But first she had to get a job quickly.  She became a worker in the lunchroom at my elementary school.  While at night she completed her GED.  Then she enrolled in nursing school and from there she became a nurse which made it possible for her to take care of herself and a young child.

But back to the house in the country.  The house was paid in full by insurance when Daddy died and that was a huge relief for my mother, I'm sure; not having a house mortgage hanging over her head.  There were 10 acres attached to the house that was ours as well and my mother worked hard to keep her yard pristine while as a child I was allowed to explore; climbing trees and sweeping the leaves  and pine needles at the edge of the woods into the shape of an imaginary house.  Now,  after the death of my mother,  my sister and I have found ourselves in the midst of cleaning out the entire house and preparing it for sale.
                                        This is the house in the country that I grew up in.
                           Even the way the shadows of the trees fall across the lawn make me nostalgic.

My sister never lived in this house as she was already married at the time we moved in.  As for me, the house is a collection of a million memories.  Every room, every item, it's all attached to a memory of some sort and I must admit that I never knew how difficult it would be to go through everything and see the rooms emptied out little by little.
Seeing everything being removed from the house I grew up in makes me feel so empty.  All I can remember are all of the festivities that took place there.  Holiday celebrations and dinners, watching the first man walk on the moon, sitting in front of the fireplace warming up after a high school football game.
The kitchen.  Where everything took place.  We didn't just eat at that bar but had many conversations, made holiday goodies, dyed Easter eggs and did homework.  That kitchen always smelled so good.  From the food that could be found on the stove to the fresh flowers cut from outside sitting in a vase nearby.

While my sister works to get things organized (because she is the organizer), I find a box of papers or photographs or even my old report cards and receipts from my wedding and there I sit...reminiscing.  And I totally can't believe my mother, by keeping all of these things over the years, left me little treasures everywhere.  So, I suppose through the sadness, you could say, I have found a bit of joy and excitement each time I  find something I thought I would never see again.  Two treasures I found on one of my last visits was a box with my school year books.  I for sure thought that those were long gone.  And the other, a box of records.  OK, for you out there who are not familiar with "records" let me stop here and give you a little lesson.  There used to be record shops where we would take our allowance and peruse all of the biggest hits of the day and purchase some to take home to listen to on our record player over and over and over again until our parents came to the door and said, "If you play that song one more time!"  So, now that you are up to speed...I found a box of records!  And I was so excited that I pulled my sister in there and I told her I was definitely keeping all of them.  And Hubby (whom I was totally driving crazy by now because of my reminiscing and not actively working) said, "Ummm...I hate to break this to you but you don't have a record player to play them on."  At which point my sister said, "But I do."  And in the midst of all the sadness a smile spread across my face and I said, "YES!  And we are going to get together and play them and have a dance party!."  At which point a smile spread across my sister's face too.  And Hubby...well, what could he possibly say to that?  He knew it was true...we would be having a dance party while listening to the tunes of the 70's.  And our mother had just given me not only another treasure but she had given us both the gift to smile again.
My bedroom.  Almost completely empty now once was a vibrant place and very important part of my life.  At one time I can remember everything being purple.  The fuzzy rug beside my white French Provincial bed and the bedspread on it.  The white rotary phone that sat on my nightstand and at the foot of the bed a cedar chest where I would place my makeup mirror and sit on the floor while putting on wild colors of eyeshadow and listening to the Bee Gees.

This house.  I grew up in it.  Ran through the freshly cut grass barefooted and got stickers in my feet, laid on the ground and watched the clouds turn from one thing into another, pulled up the loose pieces of parquet flooring in the living room while lying there listening to Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas".  Sat in the kitchen waiting for my mama to make fried okra and eggplant...oh, and chicken and dumplings.  Had  my first sleep-over, first boyfriend, my first job and car.  Went through elementary school and my adolescence, played records in my room with my friends, got in trouble for talking way too long on the telephone.  Got engaged and married.  And even when I moved out on my own, the house was still there for me to come to any time I wanted to.  My mother was there with open arms all the time.  She was always ready for a talk or to feed me or take me outside to see her flowers blooming.  And I miss that.  All of that.  I suppose it's true what people say about not knowing how much you are going to miss someone or something until they are not there.  But these treasures that I have found have truly been gifts.  Gifts that she knew one day I would open while cleaning out her things.  And every time I find another one, I say, "Thank you, Mama...I'm so glad you thought to keep this for me."

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