When my mother was very sick with ovarian cancer, and maybe wondering about her legacy or her impact or what our lives would be like without her, I told her about the rooms in my house. I told my Mom that if I stood in the center of any one of those rooms and turned around in a circle, I would find at least five things she had given me. And it’s true. In my living room, there’s a cross, an Irish Blessing, a DVD of a rosary by Fr. Frank McFarland, Easter baskets she gave my kids that now house our DVDs, our chess set, and a picture of the kids she had edited and framed. In my kitchen, there is my stove, a vase, my key holder, rosary beads, a print of a painting she had in her house and which I liked so she got me my own, dishes, a brass lantern, a Christmas ornament I leave hanging. In my bedroom, there is my bed frame, SO MUCH Belleek pottery, crystal candlesticks that belonged to my grandparents and which sat on my wedding banquet table, several of her hats on a little hat-tree in the corner, jewelry, scarves, a crucifix, a drawing she had commissioned of my kids, a little angel figurine that plays ‘I Say A Little Prayer for You’, a ceramic bell she had painted for me when I was a kid which my sister had smashed and which my mother super-glued back together. A card she wrote out for me, saying how proud she was of my growth, my mothering, and how I translate faith to daily life. I read it only every week or so.
There was a water cooler that we had to get rid of, and lampshades from sconces we no longer have. I still have the broom she bought me at BJs when we bought the house, citing an old Irish wives’ tale that you shouldn’t bring old dirt into a new home. The toaster she gave me is on the kitchen floor because we lack storage, but we pull it out because the broiler on the stove no longer works. The thought of that particular appliance replacement makes me so sad. She gave us the stove when we got the house, and I grew my children on the many thousands of meals I cooked on it. Let’s just say I will be somewhere that is not here on new stove delivery day.
The thought of all that stuff on my walls and counters made my Mom so happy. She loved the idea that she’d be remembered in such intimate, everyday ways, and of course she is, almost five years later. Those things stand out to me as I walk through and circle around, especially when the house is quiet. They’re only things, I know, but they were given with so much love and care (even the broom!) and I feel it to this very day. Love never goes away. We only have to look.
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