My best friend and I each spent Sunday with our moms, she hosting a surprise 80th birthday party, me going through the bin of things I kept when mine passed away six years ago at the age of 79. When I had to quickly clear out her things from her home shortly after her death, I took anything that I might possibly want, the plan being that in time I would be mentally ready to look at everything more closely and choose items to save. Five months later, I lost my sight and the bin has sat mainly untouched since then.
Although it’s still extremely difficult for me to think about my mom for any length of time without missing her so much I can barely breathe, going through the documents and pictures she left behind was remarkably enjoyable. I used my electronic magnifier to look at every piece of paper and photo and because of my impaired vision, I never knew what I was pulling out of the tub until I put it under the magnifier’s camera. A few of the discoveries caused me to gasp, tear up or experience the sensation of what I perceive taking a bullet would feel like, a shot fired from a big yellow plastic storage box. But mostly, seeing her handwriting, certificates of birth, marriage and death for her and her parents, my mom’s footprint on the day she was born, the floor plan for the house I grew up in when it was being built and cards I made her in elementary school filled me with wonder and appreciation. Although there were no balloons, flowers or cake in my dining room, as there was in my friend’s, each item I removed from the bin was a gift.