Thursday, October 6, 2005

Close to Nowhere
By Linda Jones

Memory lane

My daughter and I spent last Saturday at my mother-in-law’s house, packing up pictures, etc.

At nearly 80 and with increasingly serious health problems, a nursing home has the best solution after an extended hospital stay recently.

So now, what’s left of her family is packing away treasures and junk and doling it out to whomever wants whatever.

A few years after my much-loved father-in-law died, my mother-in-law Jimmie remarried. Her second husband passed away a couple years ago, and Saturday, we were fortunate to have Debbie, his daughter by a previous marriage, there with us.

Debbie and Dana were brave enough to go up into the attic (well, Debbie stood on the stairs while Dana actually poked around), but spiders were about all that were up there.

The rest of the house though was packed with memories. And for us, packing the memories away while Jimmie is still with us, felt really strange.

It’s one thing to visit in the house that has been almost home for over 30 years -- it’s quite another to pack away the belongings that are so intertwined with almost your entire life.

Poking through a cedar chest, I found several little pants and jackets that my now-grown son had worn as a little boy. In the file box with all the insurance papers, etc., I found a red painted handprint from that same little boy.

Digging through dresser drawers, I found things that had been mine as a newlywed, that hopefully had meant enough to Jimmie for her to tuck into a drawer for safekeeping.

There is an old sofa in the back den, recovered probably three times since I’d become a family member, that brought back memories of John Paul, my late brother-in-law. As a teenager, Paul used to lay on that couch in the den, watch TV, eat peanut butter sandwiches and drink countless Cokes out of those small bottles.

The first time we moved that couch to have it recovered, it clanked. After ripping the bottom out, countless Coke bottles spilled out onto the carpet, where Paul had poked them through a small hole to keep from getting up and throwing them away.

There’s very little “valuable” in Jimmie’s house, but almost everything in there is priceless. One of my favorite things is a set of knick-knacks -- really ugly men’s heads and shoulders, one with a broken neck glued back on. They are busts of famous wrestlers back in the 1800s sometime and the knick-knacks had belonged to a great-great-grandfather on the Jones side of the family.

I leaked quite a few tears Saturday and when we go back this Saturday, I expect a few more.

Good memories are worth it though!

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