I’ve got to say one of my mom’s friends is just the best. It’s the lady who used to live next door to mom, then moved back to Colorado with her granddaughter and great-grandson because it was too expensive to live here in California. Mom missed this woman so much. Thelma was like a sister to mom.
Anyway mom told me on a fairly regular basis that she wanted Thelma’s daughter to have the Norman Rockwell plates that dad had collected. I called Thelma to tell her this and then when I asked her, one of the things Thelma said she’d like of mom’s was mom’s stereo stuff. She offered to pay for it and we set a price. She was going to get everything, the receiver dad got so long ago, a five disk CD player, the two cassettes cassette player, all of the cassette tapes and all of the CDs. She said she’d be in town towards the end of March. I called her on the 28th, she said they were getting ready for a wedding and she’d call me back. Not having heard from her Sunday, I gave her another call. She apologized, they’d been really busy, and she was sorry to tell me that with all of the traveling she’d been doing, she couldn’t afford the stereo stuff. I told that I wanted her have it since it meant so much to her (she and mom used to sit and listen to music). We made arrangements for her to come get everything last Saturday, April 5th since I was busy last week with jury duty (a whole ‘nother entry).
Well, she shows up with her daughter’s pick up and I was taking the stereo apart and Brian had gone to get boxes. We talk a little (I’ve not spoken much with her before). And this woman, this wonderful friend of my mother, looks around and says “where do you want to start?” She started going through things on the glass case “do you want this?” “will this go in Father Joe’s pile”? (mom was adamant about people not coming through her house, she said she wanted everything Brian and I didn’t want to go to St Vincent De Paul). The woman is a slave driver. *grin*
We didn’t pack Sunday, but we’ve been working on it every day since and I’m absolutely amazed at the progress we’ve made. The living room and dining room are done, the kitchen is done. The park manager brought us up pizza this afternoon and Thelma was packing and asked me “do you want this platter?” and Sue piped up “I’ll take it, there’s almost nothing at the club house anymore” (seems things have disappeared over the years). So, Sue took the majority of the cookware down to the club house and that didn’t need to be packed at all. She’s also taking two of the chairs on the front porch and the five barstools in the house. It was great timing.
Since the kitchen area was so small, I said that maybe Thelma could do the kitchen and I’d start going through things in the master bedroom (where mom did not sleep). I got rid of a bunch of old clothes, like underwear, and started going through some of the paperwork and photographs she’d saved throughout the years.
I found the family bible. I didn’t even know we had a family bible, but my baptism date was in it, my first holy communion, my confirmation date, all entered by mom. I’ve wanted a bible for a long time, but never got one. Now, I’ve got one. It’s a Catholic bible and it’s red.
She still had the discharge papers from when dad died (he was discharged on a Friday, died Saturday night, the day before Mother’s Day, 1987). She had the Mother’s Day card he would have given her. She had all of the medical stuff from when she had cancer.
And I found her Naturalization Certificate. You know, when she officially became a United States citizen. One of the proudest moments of her life. Her picture was on it and I started tearing up, because I know how important this was to her. I took it out to show Thelma and she couldn’t read it and I took off my reading glasses and handed them to her. She started to read it. And I was reading along. Then I noticed the date. I looked at it and did the math in my head. My mother became a citizen on February 20, 1958.
She died on February 20, 2008. Fifty years exactly. Just amazing.
Anyway, the kitchen is done and the little bedroom is mostly done (except for the stuff piled on the bed). The armoire in the master bedroom is done, I have to do the drawers in the dresser, shouldn’t take too long and both bathrooms need to be done (and most of that stuff will be headed for the local landfill). Then we have to go through the clothes in the closet and most likely, they’ll be boxed up and sent with the furniture.
I think we’ll give the towels and blankets to animal shelters (like Friends of Cats, shelters always need things like this). Some of the stuff we’re keeping and some I’ll try to sell. Like some big Avon mugs, things that someone might want to fill out a collection. Same thing with some of the pictures on the walls. We’re going to keep one futon (since the mattresses are fairly inexpensive to replace - thinking of the cats ruining the previous furniture in the living room), the grandfather and grandmother clocks. A few kitchen appliances and a few other miscellaneous things.
By the the end of the week, we should be close to calling Father Joe to come pick up this stuff.
Oh, and Thelma bought mom’s car! She said “I put most of the miles on it, I can just pack it and take all of these things back to Colorado with me”.
Mom really loved Thelma. She told us that she’d come over and visit mom and they’d have pajama parties. Just lay on mom’s bed talking about their lives into the wee hours of the morning. Thelma watched over mom and would call me when she was concerned about mom. Thelma was the sister that mom no longer had, a good friend, a best friend.
Thelma and I have bonded this past week. I’ve met some of her family. One of her sons, Jeffrey, is in the California Highway Patrol and he’d go visit mom at Chase (the facility). Mom loved it. They’d go walking down the hallway, mom on his arm, he in his uniform and mom just ate it up, all of the looks from the other patients and employees. She’d tell him “let’s cause a scandal!”
I love hearing about my mom, what a great person she was, how deeply loved she was by so many people. How very generous she was to so many others, with her money, with her time, with her being.
I miss her. I miss her a lot. But you know, if she was still here, I’d never have known how great she really was. Because it was a part of herself she kept hidden from me. She didn’t brag, she didn’t boast.
Thelma mentioned something to me that I’ve never considered all of these years. Something I don’t even think about. When mom first came to the states, she was very ill and was in the hospital for quite some time. Years, as a matter of fact. My dad was at school in Alabama learning how to be an X-ray technician (he was in the Air Force). And I was in foster care for the first three years of my life. Time that’s very important in the bonding process between a mother and child. And we didn’t have that.
Anyway, I’m feeling a whole lot better and not so bitter anymore, not so guilt ridden and not so angry. I’m feeling really good about the person my mom was. I wish I’d known that woman, but it’s really kind of nice to be finding out now. Her legacy to me.