[note: this is part of a series of posts I made when my mother was dying. Because of world-wide interest in the posts, I published them along with other reflections on the dying process in this book: An Ordinary Death.]
My brother, sister and I have all agreed that sitting around looking at each other just waiting for Mother to pass is not the best of ideas during these days. Keeping busy as much as possible helps all of us.
So, my sister and I hit my mother’s clothes closets today. If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you may have learned that my mom was a bit of a packrat. In truth, it has been my very much unappreciated job since I was about 12 years old to come through periodically and ream through her stuff, tossing tons of it. This was an uneasy experience for both of us.
Just over three years ago, I cleaned out my dad’s stuff before his death but after the time he went into a nursing facility for what I knew would be the last time. He, like my mother, was buried in papers. Neither of them ever seemed to be able to prioritize what papers should be kept and what should be tossed or recycled.
Two years ago, I did a major clean out before my middle son’s family spent a week here, since their toddler would be here and was at the age when she would and did get into anything. At that point, I tackled mostly the kitchen since that would be the area of most danger for her.
Had I not done those two fairly recent clean-outs, what we are facing now would be far, far worse.
Walking into the house, one would never think Mother had pack-rat tendencies. This large and spacious house also was designed with massive storage space. The problem with massive storage space is that massive amounts of things get stored, hidden, lost, and buried.
I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that we were all better off when our closets were small and few.
My sister had told me that she couldn’t find any of mother’s comfortable pull-on slacks when we moved her to the short stay in rehab. We were both puzzled about this as we know there were a good supply of them.
Well, we found them. Dozens of pairs of them. And lots more things besides. Piece by piece, we removed everything from her closet. Most of it will go to Special Touch in Krum, the local organization there that provides food and clothing to those who have need of it in area where I live. But a few things are most definitely keepers, either for me or for my sister.
Like most women, my mother regularly changed sizes, so we found a large range of differently sized clothes. In the last few years, she had taken to wearing just a few favorite things (I understand this: I do the same. Ever so much easier!). But as far as I can see, she had not cleaned anything out of her closet in the entire 25 years that they lived here. Twenty-five years is a long time to go without cleaning out a closet.
She had some simply gorgeous clothes. I was so used to seeing her in the everyday stuff, and it had been years since she had really done much socially, that I had forgotten how exquisitely glamorous she could look. I bet she forgot about them too. We had such fun today going through all this, and remembering those days of high heels and glittery costumes.
Good memories for this special woman.
Mother is now deep, deep, deep into that final coma. Very peaceful. No need for any medications at all. Just sleep. Her temperature is beginning to rise, and I hear the signs of the end stage breathing now. I’ve not been home since Tuesday and will not leave here until all is over. But it is OK. It’s exactly where I need to be.