Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Let It Be

Packing the final boxes and bins at Mom and Dad's home. They've moved to a smaller apartment and downsizing is happening once again. And touching those precious items that stir memories and emotions is happening once again as well.

My mom had asked about her cedar chest, the wedding gift from her mom and dad years ago (how many? So many...) She knew there would be no room for it in their new home so I had already stored it away. I promised that it would stay in the family one way or another - at least in my lifetime.

"I just want to see those things one more time." So we dutifully brought some tangible memories to her for a final inspection.

Browned, fragile shopping bags from Sibley's (a once-upon-a-time premier department store in Rochester) housed her yellowed wedding dress and veil. She touched the fabric once more as I looked over her shoulder. "My mother made this for me by hand." I looked at the tiny stitches and marveled. My grandmother - the one who watched me as a preschooler, the one I watched as she fell to her knees in pain with her first heart attack, the one who wrapped her arm around me to comfort and assure me of my worth and her love, the one who always put a fresh molasses cookie in my right hand and another in my left hand as I asked, "One for my twin brother Darryl?" - that same grandmother had held this delicate fabric in her very own hands, carefully moving the needle in and out as she crafted a beautiful gown for her only daughter.

"Only it was white!" my mother remarked with such surprise.

"It is truly antique white now," I replied with a smile, genuinely appreciative and in awe of what time does. Always does.

That day a folding chair was brought into Daddy's "man cave" so he could sit as we sorted his seemingly endless stack of CDs. Daddy bravely faces time, knowing that these are somewhat obsolete in many ways, already becoming passé. He acknowledged that they would not be treasure to many.

I looked over his shoulder at his shelf filled with literally dozens of complete opera scores. Immediately my mind's eye recalled him sitting in his easy chair with a score on his lap, singing along as his state-of-the-art stereo filled the room with the music of Puccini, Verdi, Menotti. Rarely Mozart. He was never a real fan of Mozart's operas.

Today I folded that chair for storage and the room is empty. My eyes filled with tears. The season of this room belonging to him is past.

Time leaves its mark. I see it everyday on my face. I see it in my hair. My body feels the mark of it in joints that are aging.

My folks are now settled in a new, smaller place. They've managed to bring many treasures with them, for which I'm glad. And they left many behind for me to continue sorting.

I'm discovering faded 1950 Valentine's cards signed by my grandparents and sent to their daughter who was away at school, birthday cards inscribed with my Dad's familiar writing "Ken and the kids".

Photos of Daddy as a little boy in times and places long ago and far away.

Broken Christmas baubles and a somewhat crumpled Easter bonnet purchased at said Sibleys in 1962, with the original receipt in the box (note: $15 in 1962 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $124.72 in 2018.) That Easter bonnet was well recollected by me as a prize possession of Mom's for many years (for a Depression Era baby that was one huge investment!) Over the years I have found it repeatedly, carefully tucked away in its box, surviving every move...until now.

Time has had its way every where I look. Faded. Musty. Crumbling.

And as more time passes we add another word. Irrelevant. How many photos do I find at auctions, saved for decades in a box in the attic only to be viewed by me, a stranger wondering who this might have been and what they were named?

God has a better plan. Eternity. Never ending joy in His presence. Forever and ever.

And to that I say, Amen. Oh, let it be, let it be.