Thursday, June 07, 2007

Guest Writer: Lovella Kelley

The following piece is from my first guest writer, Lovella Kelley, who also happens to be my mother. Enjoy!


I recently received one of those pass-it-on surveys by way of cyberspace and one of the questions was: What are you most afraid of? (For some reason, I actually did not delete this one as I usually do with all those chain letter things) The answer to that is- I am afraid that someone will sell my underwear in an estate sale after I die. Now, with a statement like this, you need to look at the bottom line. Actually, though this seems rather surface, there is much to be said about the bottom line. The bottom line is- I don’t want to get old and die, at least not for a long time. At 64, it is always a mystery about how long that time will be.

A few years ago, we had a neighbor whom we were really fond of. She was lively, generous, and fun to be around. When she died, we had already moved from the neighborhood. Her husband lived a year or so longer and then he died and guess what? The heirs (they had no children) had an estate sale. I went. My friend was someone special. When I saw, laid out on tables, gifts that I had given her and things that meant so much to her, with an ambiguous price tag, I felt sick. Is this estate sale all that is left? Someone sorting through your life and putting a price on each item? Selling your most precious things in life on a long, narrow table with unknown greedy people picking away for the best price for what, let’s face it, is mostly junk to anyone other than the owner, was to me very sad. Not only that, when not everything sells, they run a hot sale and put all you can get in a bag for one dollar.

I look around my home and see things that are wonderful memories of living: love, travel, history, and a great life with lots of family and friends and I wonder what to do. A family member says get rid of all that stuff, you don’t need it. I actually enjoy looking at reminders of other days and other times, and I am not dead yet, which means I continue to enjoy just looking at them and remembering who gave me the blue dolphin and the Nutcracker and the old chiming clock on the mantle. Sometimes I think they are pleasurable to look at even with a layer of dust on them. That tends to remind me that I do not have to dust them any more to enjoy their presence.

And so, do I spend my last years sorting and getting rid of my JUNK that I enjoy or do I just dump it all because I don’t need it and, after all, I am going to die sometime and then who does what with what? I contend that I do need it. I do understand that there are some who don’t want or need reminders of other days sitting around the house. When (hopefully, if) I have to move from my home into a single room at some nursing care facility, it is time enough to dump. The same family member says to that, The kids will have to sort it all out. Well, maybe so, but I think that is part of giving up a loved one and moving on without them. Maybe I will sort and label and say, dump this, treasure this. At least, that will make their chore a little easier. Maybe something in my treasures that means a lot to me will also mean something to someone else in my large extended family. If my junk is sorted and labeled, I can continue to enjoy the things I treasure while I put the sorted things into boxes to save for someone else. For instance, due to enlarged knuckles and other physical ailments, I don’t use much of the jewelry I have accumulated over these many years. I have given some away already to be enjoyed. Last week, I went through it piece by piece, put it all into little bags, and stored it on a shelf for my family to enjoy picking out the things they have treasured with me- in due time, of course.. The next morning, I was in the ER with an erratic very rapid heart beat. Now, I am thinking, all that sorting and making decisions is enough to do me in for good even sooner than I ever anticipated. In which case, sorting and labeling becomes a moot issue.

If no one wants what is left after I sort, dump, and die, please just give it away or throw it in the trash. But don’t put a price tag on my memories. And do not put my underwear on a long, narrow table with a price on it. Actually, most of it probably won’t fit anyone else anyway (not to mention there may be holes in most of them) and my undies are not desirable since the modern day thong (we used that word in reference to what is now foot covering called flip-flops) undies are not part of my wardrobe. Victoria’s Secret never fit me so well. So there! You can’t sell my underwear because it is old-fashioned and if you do, I will haunt you for the rest of your shopping days! Oh, by the way, you don’t have to look in my socks or old envelopes or books or underwear drawers for hidden money or other treasures. It would have been too easy to forget where it was. I have it all in a nice bankbook that I can keep track of it and remember where I have put it, usually. And everything else is sorted and labeled! One more thing, it is forbidden to include my 1960 picture with my obit!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am so impressed, Lovella. Your narrative is interesting and fluid and deals with issues I think a lot about, too. My only daughter tells me to stop buying china, because she'll have to deal with it when I die. My first mother in law had tags on everything in her house so everyone would know who got what when she died--it was kind of creepy. I feel this same sadness at Goodwill and St. Vincent dePaul -- and it makes me especially sad to see the underwear. If you're writing, you sure ain't dead yet! Thanks for having such a great daughter like Janet! I see where she inherited some of her way with words! Mary B.