Mom asks me to take a few days and clean out the mountains of boxes and debris packed high in her three-car garage. She offers, “If you do it now, before I die, it’ll be easier—you won’t be sad.”
She has a point there, although I suspect she simply wants to get her car in there.
During the project, I uncover 27 wristwatches, 6 metal garden sundials, 5 clock radios, and 2 chintzy clocks. None of them found together. As if she bought one, put it away, and it became buried. She couldn’t find it, so she bought another one. Over and over.
In one box I find a fragile hourglass. It’s filled with shimmery, aqua colored sand. No framework protects its delicate structure. I flip it over and watch the sand form a crumbly pyramid in the bottom globe.
I place it in the tub of things I want to keep and think about the concept of time.
If I live to be a hundred, I’m already a little past midlife, my mom, further along. I ask myself how I want to spend the rest of our time together.
If I’m judgmental and critical, it won’t change a thing. I could share with her the list of grievances I’ve accumulated and nurtured over the years. All the missteps and slights I’ve felt. All the times she was less of a mother than I expected her to be.
Then I think of my daughters and all the times I’ve misspoke, made missteps, and messed up. All the times I was less of a mother than what they expected. Ouch.
I wonder how much head space I could free up if I took my negative scorecard and do with it what we are going to do with most of this stuff: donate it.
I consider the possibility my mom is simply human and I see her in a new light. With the piles of stuff gone, I can actually see her, period.
The hourglass sits by my desk and when I flip it over, it reminds me we don’t have forever. I hear the sand whisper forgiveness, and I pick up the phone and call Mom.
This is the 39th story in the Objects as Waypoints Writing Project series.