By the time my sister N and I were done packing up my mom’s condo last weekend, about all that was left were the two beds that we were sleeping on and three bottles of booze (all unopened, including a bottle of whisky that was likely almost as old as I am).
It was a right of passage that many daughters and sons our age go through. Now that our mom is settled in an assisted living residence, it was time for my sister N and I to close up her condo for good.
“The Salvation Army is coming bright and early Saturday morning,” I said to my sister N, “time is of the essence.”
One by one, we cleaned out and emptied each drawer, each closet, each counter top and each cabinet in my mom’s Flo-ree-da condo. In less than 24 hours, the two of us scoured the place from top to bottom, putting clothes aside for donation, putting books in piles for the local libraries, and boxing up glasses and dishes that would go in the Salvation Army truck along with most of the furniture.
“Our mother is a hoarder,” I said to my sister. She shook her head in agreement, as did my mother who admitted to being a pack rat.
It’s amazing how much stuff a mother can accumulate over 89 years of life. It was hard to throw away some of the memories. It was like a game of “wonder what I’ll find when I open this closet or that drawer?”
In the nightstand were hundreds of birthday, Mother’s day, and holiday cards neatly displayed in a huge binder. I even found my birth announcement from 1958. Under the cards were hundreds of old pictures, many black and white from the various decades dating back to the early 1900’s, including pictures of my great grandmother and grandfather when they were in their teens. I packed all the pictures in a box and shipped them home – priceless memories that I will hand down to my children and that I hope my children will hand down to their children one day as they build their family tree.
In the closet was my mom’s original majong set. My sister and I reminisced about the days when mom played majong with her friends We loved when she would host the majong games at our home. We always knew there would be leftover treats after the ladies left for the evening. Bridge mix was my favorite leftover, especially the malted milk balls. Sometimes, I would go to sleep dreaming of majong voices “one crack, two bam, two bam, one crack.”
On the coffee table were dolls my mom collected. My old Lady Alexander doll was sitting pretty. She was my pal when I was growing up. I so enjoyed watching her pretty eyelashes that blinked when you picked her up. It was sad to see that her doll legs were broken, likely after many years of usage. In the trash bag she went.
“Look at this,” said my sister as she cleaned out the desk drawer, “I never knew mom was a poet.”
“I didn’t either,” I said. I took the pile and started to read each one. I carefully unfolded the papers as not to rip the words. They were neatly typed. Wow -o – wow. My mom was a poet. These poems are really good. Wow -o – wow. My mom was a poet and I didn’t know it. I smiled as I read the poem about the boys going off to World War II. I laughed at the poem about riding on the NYC subways. My mom certainly had a creative way with her rhymes and words. Wow -o – wow. My mom was a poet. How wonderful is that!
So, here dear friends, is one of my mom’s poems. She wrote it in the 1940’s, when ladies wore white gloves. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do:
A Pair of White Gloves
They’re not to hold, they’re not to wear,
They never get old or start to tear,
They’re never white, but always grey
You’ll see them any time of day
In trolley, bus or subway car,
At the Ritz or some cheap bar
On a working Miss, though her boss never pays her
On Sally Rand or on Miss Brenda Frazier
On hatless, thin girls, sweet and pretty
On short ones, tall ones, fat and witty
They’re right for tennis, right for dining
RIght for dancing or for pining
Right for slapping in the face
Right when in a tight embrace
They’re warm in winter, cool in summer,
Right on the wife of any plumber
They’ve been washed a hundred times
And been an aid in many crimes
They’re never white but always grey
I guess they were just born that way
They’re dearer to you than all other loves
These dirty pair of old white gloves.