KeppenArt by Kathy K. McClellan
My mother died.
I went a little crazy.
Just about the time the daffodils bloomed with a vengeance, the grass turned green and grew towards the sun and the lilac bushes budded out, my mother passed away. She missed it. She missed the warmth of the sun on her skin. She missed the smell of the freshly turned field up the hill from her house. She missed the fragrance and beauty of the lilac bushes in full bloom and a lonely tulip next to the porch bravely saluting spring.
I didn't miss it. I soaked it up like I never have before. I lived on that property for three years when I was a teenager before we moved south. I have never liked the house. I hate that house. But it is the most gorgeous piece of God's earth in that part of Ohio. The geography as well as the plantings on that property clearly show the difference of the four seasons, as opposed to our southern slip from one season to the next. I love that property. I have always loved that property. I had forgotten how beautiful it is there.
The day after my mother died we cleaned house, put the leaf in the dining room table, the dining chairs in the living room and a bright white fancy tablecloth on the now extended table. We were ready for visitors. There was plenty of seating in the living room with a side or coffee table next to each chair so guests could set down a cup of coffee or glass of tea. There was plenty of room on the dining table for the food we assumed would be brought in. And I went a little crazy insisting on a freshly scrubbed kitchen floor to welcome everyone who would be entering from the back door, which is the main entry in my mother's old country house.
As I was picking daffodils to fill every vase I could find I discovered that Mother had several small patches of coral colored daffodils. Coral pink was one of her favorite colors. I lovingly filled the smallest but prettiest vase with those daffodils and set them in a prominent place on the dining room table.
The house was ready. We were not. Several of us went shopping, trying to find the right outfit for the viewings, the funeral and for Easter dinner, too. Most of us were there from other states. We had left our homes the month before with winter clothing. Spring brought warm days but the nights were still cold. Our outfits would need to serve us for both situations.
My mother died during Holy Week. Her funeral was not able to take place until after Easter. I had told my nieces when we were shopping and when we had been looking at her jewelry that I didn't do pink. But I went a little crazy. I wore one of my mother's short sleeved sweaters, her jacket and her earrings on Easter Sunday. All in pink. I wore her pink possessions in her honor and it turned out just fine. It seems I look okay in pink---even when I'm a little crazy.
The day after my mother died, two of her best friends came by with food. It was delicious and didn't last long. We were staying there at the house and family was thankfully, always coming and going. Except for two more dishes brought in by a family member that's all the food that was brought in. And except for neighbors and family there were no visitors. All the cleaning and preparations for guests were in vain. In hindsight it seems that most of the cleaning, splitting up, organizing and boxing up of possessions was mostly done in vain.
It makes me think about how much of what we do in life might be in vain. And that makes me a little crazy!
After Mother's funeral we tried to go through a lifetime of possessions, including a zillion photographs and news clippings. My mother saved them all. At first I was excited to see pictures I had sent her that I had lost in Hurricane Katrina and I put them aside to take home with me. But as the pile grew I was beginning to feel burdened. That feeling was overshadowed as I went further back in time and found photographs of my parents that I had never seen. Photographs of them in their teens and some of them as children. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be taking those pictures home to pour over while thinking about them and to scan and save for future generations.
The feeling of being burden didn't take long to return. Have you ever tried to sort through a pile of photographs for family members---a pile that was over eighty years in the making? There's a pile labeled children, grandchildren, mom, dad and the largest pile labeled multiples. Those are the pictures with two or more different people in them---the ones that would need to be copied or scanned so each person in the picture can have a copy of that photo. The more we separated photos the larger that pile became. The larger that pile became the more overwhelmed I became since I was the one who volunteered to be in charge of all the photographs. I was also the one staying at the house so I chose to be the one responsible for cleaning up, organizing and boxing up possessions. And because I am the only Realtor® in the family I was in charge of deciding how to market and sell the house and possessions. I'm afraid I took the easiest and quickest way by agreeing to an auction. I'm not sure it was the best decision but I can understand why I did that. I was on information, emotion and physical overload. I went a little crazy.
Going through my parents possessions felt like going through the debris fields after Katrina. At first it is amazing. Look! That survived. Look! I remember that from my childhood. But just like going through the debris field after the hurricane, going through a lifetime of saved possessions can begin to gnaw away at your sanity and sense of reality. We packed up and shipped things home and then filled my Jeep with more things. It didn't take long after getting home and trying to find space for all of those things before I realized that I had kept too many keepsakes. Now our house, as well as my mind was cluttered.
Spring arrived and took over the never ending winter.
We came home.
And it was summer.
All the trees that were barren when we left were completely leafed out. The spring flowers were gone and summer blooms were taking their place. In the time it took to drive a thousand miles everything was different. Everything--the season, the geography and the way of life. There was too much change in such a short span of time for me to be completely sane and normal.
I am still a little crazy.