She was becoming intimate with her belongings, things left in boxes, drawers and closets–things put away and forgotten. The nebulizer, once upon a time, used thrice daily on her three-year old son, so hard to obtain in the first place, was in its original box. She’d kept it these twenty-five years, in case his asthma came back and he might need it, or someone might need it. She put it in the pile for the Goodwill–although she doubted anyone would want it. She knew this machine was easily obtainable, prescribed routinely in this day and time. Back then, not so.
She systematically picked up each item from the shelves holding purses, hats and the worn leather briefcase that she hadn’t needed or used in a decade. She loved that case, so much like a western saddle, the color of the leather, the feel, the utilitarian makeup. She’d passed it over many times, over the years since it was last used, in the sorting and cleaning of the closets. This time, she let it go.
She packed five boxes of photo albums, filled with pictures dating back to 1951, although there were scant few of the early years, but every birthday, Christmas, Easter and vacation since 1980 was represented in varying degrees of advancing camera technology. She glanced through each book, briefly. Everyone was so young, their hair so brown or blonde, so slim and fit. Was that her? Was she even the same person anymore? She kept them all. But who would look at them? Who cared? Shouldn’t she select a few, representational images and pare down this volume of moments? Another day, perhaps. There was more packing to do.
They were coming for the ping-pong table today. Her husband, the champion player loved the table as did every guest who tried their hand at the game. They were always surprised, this old man’s got it! Of course, she always knew he had it.
Finally, the Bow-Flex goes. She’d dusted that thing every week. And the ugly ottoman was in the pile. Where was the matching, oversize, won’t-fit-any-room, chair? Wherever it is, she hoped it stays there and doesn’t make its way back to her.
She carefully wrapped the porcelain creamer and sugar bowl in bubble wrap and placed them in a box labeled for her son. She enclosed notes on which of his great grandmothers it belonged to (Jane) and where Jane bought it–Paris while studying abroad. The story goes that Jane’s parents had sent her to France to break up an attraction to a boy who, in the end, she married anyway. A smart young man. He drank too much. He was amazing though. You could tell from his pictures.
She found the little girl dress pattern and fabric, all cut out, ready to be sewn. It was meant for her grandchild. At the end of the day, she sat about making the dress. But the bobbin bundled up, many times, the machine wouldn’t feed, she mistook the dress back for the front, a considerable error which could not be undone. She remembered why she hated sewing. The pattern and material was deposited in the Goodwill pile.
Ah, here they are, the Liberty Family Assistance truck (a kind of Goodwill in this rural place). The two men, were so appreciative. They delighted in the bow-flex, the extra golf clubs, the grill, the box of books, the fishing poles, the suits and clothes. “I have more things and will call you back when it’s time,” she told them. They shook her hand and thanked her.
Now if someone will buy the house, she’ll finish up here and settle ever so lightly in a good place, where people around her are friendly, and there aren’t too many rules, a place where the birds sing, the sun shines, the rain falls gently and someone else cuts the grass, cleans the gutters, fixes the roof and all those tiresome homeowner things.
© Glenda Kotchish