My mother decided that she would not make me endure going to our former church as she had wanted and decided she would go to the church my husband and I attend. My mom is 92 and she gets around mostly with a walker or cane and sometimes if it is a jaunt, we roll her in. So likes to use just her cane in public, but requires an extra arm or hand to ensure her balance and safety. We are happy to supply her with that.
When Rick dropped us off at the door to go park the car, I got Mom out of the car and inside the church. As I hung up our coats, I was sure to be close by to steady her or be ready to catch her if she got off balance. She grabbed my hand and we tried to find a good grip that was both comfortable and safe.
While we were waiting for Rick to come back a person came up to us that I hadn’t seen in many years to greet me and give me a hug. I had to unlink with my mom to receive the gesture. I soon found her hand again.
The person was part of a previous life I had and even though I forgive, that forgetting part is truly difficult. Since I am advanced in years you would think that I could easily get over myself and mostly I do, but there are days. My anxiety had kicked in and I realized that I had put a death grip on my poor mother’s fingers and was gradually squeezing the life out of them. I came to my senses and released the tension. As the conversation continued I had to do the release all over again. For her part she did not wince or peel me off of her hand.
It wasn’t the time or place to explain why I had unintentionally tried to break her fingers. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, as she said later when I apologized that she thought the person was a friend and thought the sturdy grip was for her safety.
Turns out a 92 year old mother still needs to hold onto her child’s hand for support, even though her child is 59 and is the one that needs the support.
The fire roared for a little while while some of the last pieces of the cardboard Christmas decoration box escaped the burning barrel and floated on the cold breeze over the hardened snow. There goes the box that I had remembered for all of my life.
My mom stored the Christmas decorations over the alcove going down to the basement of my childhood home on the farm. There was a large door size hatch that was always in the elevated position unless it was time to get the decorations down or put them back. We could walk right on it and had to use a small ladder to access the space above an old wardrobe located in that alcove.
Dad, Mom or one of my brothers would get them down every year. When my brothers moved out that was something I did. There were about three or four cardboard boxes. The one I burned today was the box that had stood these many years holding decorations, moving from the farm to Mom’s place in Winneconne and since she is getting rid of more things she sent the remains home with me to be dispersed or used.
That box has to be older than I am an as I was trying to cut it up to burn it I must say they don’t make cardboard boxes like that anymore. The box was sturdy and hard to cut almost trying to give me a moment to slow down and consider its life.
When Mom sent it home with me recently she told me that she had ordered a set of dishes and that came in that box. The purple mailing tape always was I sign that that was one of the right boxes to grab down each year. The address written on it was Ruth Spiegelberg R2 RFD Omro, WI. There was no zip code. The R stood for route although we addressed mail then, RR2 as in Rural Route 2 and the RFD stood for Rural Free Delivery. Zip codes would come in 1963 and I don’t remember when the actual house number was used, but not until I was much older.
As I looked at the writing on it I saw the handwriting of two others. One was Mom’s lovely cursive and two different offerings from my hand. There was my printing and then my early cursive. The letters were individually presented for a word as I must have just been learning and not yet connecting the letters. Then there was my connection of cursive in a list of the contents of the box with a misspelling. The misspelled word was flocking spelled floking as part of white flocking.
I had just asked Rick if his mom had ever done flocked trees at Christmas. It was a mess, but it was so pretty and something I had never seen as a child. We would have a tarp on the floor and set the fresh tree on it. All I remember was there was this red sprayer that a person attached to the vacuum cleaner on blow and it would spray this white substance on the tree that would stick. I remember thinking how amazing it was.
Who would have expected that a sturdy cardboard box could evoke such a stream of memories?