Monday, September 13, 2021

Count It All as Loss

 


Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her. ~Mark 14:9

The photo above depicts garbage bags filled with clothes that my husband, Danny, and I plan to donate to Goodwill.  Yes, we've spent the last several days down at Mom's house in Oxford, attempting to clean out all the closets brimming with clothes, shoes, purses, and other items worthy of a give-away.  And as many bags as you see here, half that many are assigned to the throw-away category.  That's how worn and unusable they are.

We end up with this much only because my mother couldn't bear to part with Dad's possessions after he passed in 2014.  Of course, she did give items of clothing to my son, Daniel, who was the same size at the time, but the rest stayed hidden away as if awaiting his coming back to life.

It breaks my heart just as much to have to donate Dad's belongings, including a spanking-new tuxedo outfit, as it does my mom's.  I feel like I'm experiencing his passing all over again.

While I go through closets, drawers and a large armoire that we would like to have, Danny tackles two cedar chests, and collects and organizes DVDs/VCR recordings so that my brother, Bill, can determine what he wishes to keep or throw away.  He also gathers up the hangars the clothes hung on to donate to a dry cleaner.


I remember my Mom asking me years ago what one thing I would like to have of hers once she passes.  Of course, I didn't like to hear her talk like that, even though the reality is inevitable.  I tell her I want this sweater knitted by my father's sister, Mary Jane.


If you look closely, you can see the coffee stains on it.  I'm hoping that with some treatment and tender loving care, I can restore the sweater to its original integrity.

Pouring through all these many items evokes memories that will ever remain with me.  Exhausted and overwhelmed after a day of purging, this poem comes to be.

The house stands too empty without her

Yet rife with tangible objects, clutter

Shelves and drawers, closets overflow

Call for hands to cull and just let go

Worldly items, count it all as loss

Memories, the treasure not to toss

There is no earthly treasure that can take the place of precious memories.  May we, like the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus, do for others in this life as unselfishly and lovingly as she did for the One who saves our souls, not our possessions.

Lord, help me, help us all, to let go of what doesn't matter in the eternal perspective.

Amen.

40 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Cityhomemaker!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  2. In 2004 I had to go through my mom's stuff. She would buy 2 or 3 of things although I am not sure why. Old records of Pat Boone or Nat King Cole or Robert Goulet. (we gave them to Goodwill. I wish I had them now since vinyl is making a comeback). A couple pieces of furniture that has now seen its better days and we will soon give away. Like you, though, I am glad for the memories but realize that there is something much better ahead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in having to sort through a parent's belongings, Bill. It's neither a welcome nor an easy task. And yes, there is something better ahead, and for that, I'm ever grateful.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  3. I understand and feel your pain, Martha. It is so difficult when someone dies and we have to go through their belongings and decide what to keep and what to give away. The best thing we can keep are the memories of who they were and how kind they have been to us and to others. That is the greatest tribute we make to their memories ... until we meet again.

    God bless you and your family, dear friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I keep reminding myself that it's only "stuff," Victor, and giving it away is a way to honor the memory of a parent or loved one. My mother loved giving to charity, so I think our decision to donate to Goodwill would have met with her approval.
      And yes, memories until we meet again . . .
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  4. One of the hardest things my brother and I had to do was to help my mother break up her house as she prepared to move to a retirement home. She had lived there for 58 years and kept it immaculate. It took about four times as long as it might have because we kept finding photos, old books, and other things that triggered childhood memories for both of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It most definitely is the finding of treasures, Glynn, that slows down the entire process. If it were just my brother and I doing this, I'm afraid we'd get hopelessly bogged down. Danny has been a trooper about keeping us focused on what has to be done in the present. There will be time later to claim photos, letters and art work.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  5. Heartbreaking, Martha. Yes, I can identify ... and have been guilty of stroking an inanimate object with my fingertips, imagining my mother's own fingers having touched that spot. That's a beautiful sweater. I'm so glad Danny's there beside you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Myra, what a touching picture you've painted for us here. I've caught myself doing the same thing . . . And yes, I'm so grateful for Danny's presence as I go through this arduous process as he's the "get 'er done" type. A beautiful sweater, indeed, and I do hope I can reclaim it.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  6. Dearest Martha Jane,
    That is emotional and also living proof of your Mother's LOVE for your Dad!
    Your Aunt Mary Jane did an excellent job on that sweater in the Irish Aran pattern. Looks like the one I did knit in 11 days for my Pieter when he had to travel to cold Canada for Campbell Soup to their 3 mushroom farms. You can see my post here: https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-hand-knitted-irish-aran-mens-vest.html
    You certainly should be able to get that stain out: https://youtu.be/gPri5fDydy0
    Good luck with all of it!
    Also wishing your brother Bill good luck in digitalizing and sharing some of the DVD/VCR collection.
    You no doubt meant hanger and not hangar... Your Dad did not 'fly'...
    Big hugs,
    Mariette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, Mariette, yes, I did mean hanger. Thanks for catching that!
      Mary Jane was not only a talented knitter, but an accomplished artists, too. I'm hopeful that the stain will come out, and I'll be sure to check out your post regarding the sweater you knitted for Pieter.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  7. Bittersweet, Martha. Many of us have had to do this same chore for our parents. Oh my. Praying for your sweet memories to sustain you as you close out your mom's life. Your memories will never be closed out. She will live in your heart always.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, she will continue to live in my heart, Lulu, as I'm sure yours does, too. The memories are precious, indeed. Things are things, memories are everything.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  8. Memories are precious Martha, loved the poignant poem ..

    I had tea cloth stained though not with coffee, different, but from handling with over the two decades plus it took me to crotchet it.
    I rang a stain lady up on radio she suggested a paste of Napisan, Fiesta or oxygen bleach they are not a chloride bleach, am not sure what your brands in US are.

    Anyway mixed up a paste with the powdered product, leave on for hours or maybe overnight can’t recall.
    Then soaked it in soaking quantity of same product and gently rubbed it to loosen stain. It came up like new.
    Which it was 😂😆 so I’d recommend that. If you’ve eucalyptus oil in US it’s also an awesome stain remover esp on woolllen products it’s wonderful…
    … and I’d add a lid of that to sucking mix as well. It’s pretty strong so def don’t use it directly on stain.
    Only in diluted form, it’s a brilliant natural cleaning product, in spray mixed water bottle it’s great on bench tops etc and natural antiseptic too.
    Hope that helps.
    Thanks for Sharing, God bless and keep you safe, and all those you love, prayer hugs Shaz in Oz.x

    {Wonderful Words of Life - Shaz in Oz}
    {Calligraphy Cards - Shaz in Oz}


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Shaz, I so value your stain-removing advice! I'm pretty sure we have eucalyptus oil here in the states, and that would certainly be worth a try. In the past, I've found that regular stain removing products have worked, but since this is wool, and handknit, I want to give it extra love. Thanks for your prayers!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  9. Bless your dear heart, Martha! I so understand where you are, emotionally. Just provides more incentive for those of us who are alive and remain to not leave our dear children laden with such heavy decisions and hard work after our passing. I say, get rid of it now, if you don't love, use, or want it. Spare our children the pain. God help us. And may He comfort you in every moment of grief.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Cheryl, that we bless our children by winnowing out unnecessary items that they won't be saddled with in the future. We could all take some rigorous advice from Biblical Minimalism, that's for sure! Planning to review your wonderful book next week, and will let you know exactly the date it will be published.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  10. For me, a hand stamp that Dad used on every check I ever watched him write or print. I was also fortunate to have received two of his cherished square dancing belt buckles and a matching bolo tie that was custom made, featuring he and mama dancing. Treasured items only to me perhaps, but ones I will cherish. I do not envy you the task sweet friend. God's blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is, indeed, a difficult process, J. D., but God is seeing me through it all. It sounds like the keepsakes you saved from your Dad are priceless memories of all he meant to you. Those are the items to cherish as you move forward. I'm sure you will meet someone down the road who will understand their importance to you, and love them because of that.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  11. That must be so difficult and draining, Martha. So sorry. Yes, we can still treasure the memories. And Amen to this - "Lord, help me, help us all, to let go of what doesn't matter in the eternal perspective." Love and blessings of strength and peace!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Difficult and draining; it certainly is, Trudy, but so far, the Lord hasn't let me down, and I know He will give me strength to carry on. I'm so flattered that you quoted my words, too. We must focus on eternity if we are to live this life to the fullest.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  12. What a beautiful post. I know how hard it is to giveaway things from loved ones. Many people I Know have made quilts from old possessions of clothing. I donated three bags this weekend to the ARC. We are rearranging the garage so I can move this portable closet in there. I think it can hold many off season items. I love your Scripture and I wish I were close, so I could hug you. I have a beautiful dress that belonged to my mother that she wore at my nephews wedding in 1988 while I was in labor with our daughter Rebekah in 1988, I was given some of her pjs too as we liked the same kinds. I have worn many of them out through the years. I was not given anything of my fathers, and I adored my dad. But I have a beautiful photo from his semi pro basbeall days that a friend gave me. Makes me smile as it is where I can see it now. :-) I wish tyou much peace as you sort through their lives. It is so incredibly hardlosing parents. I will be praying for you through it all. HUGS and LOVE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anne, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your personal stories of keepsakes from your mother and father. Hearing others' experiences does soften the blow of having to face all these challenges head on. I love the idea of making a quilt out of valued fabric, but since I'm not a seamstress, that wouldn't even have crossed my mind. Speaking of quilts, though, my mother has two, one of which I will take and give the other to my brother. Thank you for your prayers!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  13. Your aunt was a gifted knitter--that sweater is lovely. I too hope you can eradicate those coffee stains. My mother graduated to heaven in 2014, my dad in 2018. They lived so far away, it just wasn't practical to haul a lot of stuff to our home. We're trying to pare down ourselves. But you are so right: the memories are still there, ready to pull out and enjoy anytime. (My thick rose-colored glasses have enhanced each and every one!) Praise God he gave us the ability to remember beloved people and joy-filled events from long ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad God gave us the gift of memory, too, Nancy. Yes, Mary Jane was not only fantastic at knitting, but in rug-making and painting, too. Several of her paintings adorn the house, but will be divided soon to family members who want them. And the passing of time does make our memories fonder, that's for sure. Any hard feelings or unresolved conflicts fade away into nothingness.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  14. Having recently gone through Joe's things to donate after the boys got what they wanted, I can feel your pain. I did the same with my grandmother's apartment when she died, and (as you know) just finished with Helen's things. It is hard but still necessary. It also has me looking around at all the stuff I still have... goodness. None of it goes with us, does it. You have my prayers, Martha, and I wish you all peace as you continue this journey. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you've gone through so much lately, Terri, and doing the same things we are now embarking on. It is a pain and a heartache we share. This experience definitely has made me more aware of what I save and why. As you said, we can't take it with us! Better to give away to someone who could use it while we are still here. Know you're daily in my prayers.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  15. Oh, I know just how hard this is! My sister and I went through our mother's clothes after she passed, and my Dad was still living then. We were having a good time going through her closet and drawers and giggling about this and that. My dad wondered what we were giggling about so much. We were trying on things and just reliving happy memories of when our mother wore this or that. It was very special. We ended up keeping a few things for ourselves and then everything else was donated. I saved one of Mom's soft white sweaters that she used to wear a lot. I had actually given it to her. I still love to wear it. It's like being hugged by my mother again when I put it on. I hope you take time to just enjoy the memories even through the tears. I love the sweater you are keeping. It looks like it is VERY special indeed. So much work to knit that! Wow. (((Hugs))) to you my friend. You're in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a very special sweater, Pamela, as my aunt made it for Mom and she loved it so much. I am so happy to know that you saved one of your mother's sweaters, one you gave to her, that reminds you of her whenever you wear it. Keeping things just for the sake of keeping things isn't good, but when that object evokes precious memories, it is all worthwhile. Thank you, my friend, for your hugs and prayers!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  16. It is so very hard to tackle this job, but the hard part is in the letting go. My mother's clothes smelled of her. I remember holding some of her things close to my heart before placing them in bags. Hugs and blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a touching memory you've shared here, Nells, and I so appreciate that. Most of the clothes we gave away hadn't been worn in years by Mom, so I didn't have that sensation. Still, I can see her in that sweater that I hope to redeem, and that is good enough for me.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  17. Oh, Martha! I know this is so difficult. Praying for you, sweet friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your prayers, Beckie! Yes, this isn't an easy process to go through, but I do feel God's comfort in the process. Know I pray daily for you, my friend!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  18. I feel your pain and sadness, Martha. I'm still going through this same process at my mother's house and my own. I've procrastinated, but that also allowed me to recall precious memories that had previously been overshadowed by sorrow. Thinking of you in this time. I'm glad you have your husband to help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Katherine, I'm so very sorry to hear that you are having to go through this same thing. It is harder than I ever imagined it would be. I will keep you in my prayers as you navigate through it all.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete
  19. Letting go is so hard especially in times of grief. My prayers are with you, Martha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Letting go is never easy, Jean, but it is too often necessary. Thanks for your prayers!
      Love and blessings!

      Delete

A Book Review and Give-Away!

  They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ~Acts 2:42 For those of y...