Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is It Really Just Stuff?

"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Deuteronomy 5:16

As I walked into the shop at the antique center today, I saw a stranger sitting in my Dad's chair. 

It was a fine, deep blue leather, wing-back recliner.
Wing-back to suit Mom's decor, recliner to suit my Dad's need for comfort in his castle.

That chair had been Dad's spot in the family room for as long as I could remember.
In every family room of every home we'd inhabited.
It was the last in a long line of recliners in our homes. Each of them giving their all in service to one of the hardest working men I knew. Giving comfort after long days, working sometimes three jobs to keep our family afloat.

And now it was being usurped by a stranger who knew nothing of my sweet memories.
Knew nothing of the raw emotion his presence there stirred in me.

The night my Dad died, I remember curling up in that chair, comforted by the smooth, cool leather, the faint smell of my Dad's shampoo and the sense that he was holding me still. 
My Dad's hugs were always the best.
For a few brief moments, his arms wrapped around me, I was his little girl again, no matter how much I had grown up.

And today the little girl in me wanted to scream at that stranger to get up from my Dad's chair. Wanted to shout at him that he didn't belong there.
That he hadn't earned the right to sit in that place.

But the practical adult in me won out.
The practical adult with a furnished home of her own with no place for a chair whose memories were worth far more than the value of the chair itself.

And so went the minutes of my day.

Watching as strange hands unpacked carefully wrapped glassware and framed artwork and family heirlooms passed down from my Great-Grandmother.

Observing as strange eyes evaluated the worth of precious pieces not judging them by the rich memories each held, but by how much money could be earned by offering it up to someone willing to pay the right price.

It has been what seems a lifetime since I saw my Dad's cufflinks.
And my Mother's beautiful Japanese treasures sent to her from my then soldier Father. 

I've never seen them being examined by a strangers hands.

It's just "stuff", a few of my friends said to me today.
Yes, yes it is.

The memories are what count, a few more said.
Yes, that is true.
And on a day like today, I'm glad I have the memories to strengthen my resolve.
To remind my heart that it is still beating.
That I will survive this chapter in the story.

Because today I felt violated.
Robbed of the intimacy of the connection I feel to my parents through the evidence of their life together. The proof of their existence displayed in every photograph that was uncovered.

I am an orphan now.
There is no one living anymore that completely shares my history.

No one but me who can recount the story of my Mom's white oval platter. The platter that held every batch of homemade fudge she lovingly cooked for me and my Dad.
No one is left that remembers how we would giggle together and share the pan scrapings and the fudge covered wooden spoon as my Dad sat in his recliner wondering what was taking us so long in the kitchen.

Yes, it's all just "stuff".
But its the stuff that was part of the life that made the memories that blessedly will never leave me.
Even if I am the only one left who remembers them.

With a Courageous Heart,


  1. This just made my heart ache for you, Robin. Each of us has so many identities within us - wife, aunt, cousin, daughter, and many more. Today you lived your day as a daughter that experienced so much love with all of those things as such tangible reminders. I'm praying for you as you go thru these difficult days. Love you my friend!

  2. I know exactly how you felt. I, too, am an orphan and have had to feel that violation. That is exactly the right word. My mom was disabled for many years. However, she never lost her last for life and was an avid crafter. I guess that is where I get it from. But what that meant was that she had collected a lot of stuff....materials, fabric, sequins, know what I mean. When she died, I was left the task of cleaning house...everyone thought that her craft stuff was junk. I knew that what it represented to her was her sense of usefulness, creativity and peaceful happiness. I had a sale and had to watch as uncaring and unknowing people picked through it and wanted to know if I would sell it all for cheap. Just wanted a quick bargain for the stuff. I had to realize that the memories would be with me always and no one could take it away. But, they couldn't share it either. I still have a few things hat me Mom made...some small felt Christmas ornaments, some recipe cards written in her handwriting...But, the main thing I have is her in my heart. Right now the wound is pretty raw for you. Give yourself time for the healing to begin. You will never lose your Mom as long as you have memories. They're the treasures email are left with when the stuff goes away. Be kind to yourself, my friend.


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