Thursday, June 19, 2008

I may have gone a bit overboard

I'm still cleaning my bedroom.  Feeling much better today with only one incident of cramping and fatigue after playing too much at the park with the kids.  Oh, and I'm not hungry.  I still have some cravings, but they aren't terrible.

So in Quantum Wellness  is a chapter called, "Your Nest - Creating a Magical Environment".  In particular, this chapter hit home.  Kathy Freston says, "Your physical environment is an extension of your body and mind, and it will reflect what's going on with you - and vice versa."  So basically, if you're home doesn't get a lot of light, and you've been feeling depressed, she feels there is a strong connection.  At first glance this seems a little flighty, but after I read some more of the examples I was convinced.  "You can walk through a door and feel soured by the energy that is all around, or you can walk into a place that seems to sing to your soul."

When I walk in my door I see clutter, piles and usually dirty dishes.  Our house is very small, less than half the size of the one we came from, and we probably have too much furniture.  Also, the interior styling is traditional.  Many of our pieces are handed down from my grandparents.  I used to be obsessed with getting as much as I could from my relatives.  I have gorgeous crystal lamps, a beautiful side board that holds my ALCOHOL and a cool barrel table with a leather top.  

I was raised in an extremely contemporary environment.  My parents furnished with Scandinavian design.  Teak furniture, clean lines.  However, we did move into that house in 1970, so we had chrome ball lights and chandelier, and a bright orange and yellow shag rug on the wall of the sun.  I even knew at a young age that the rug was extra cool.  Because of this, I always questioned my strong interest in antiques.  After thinking about it for awhile, I believe I always loved the sentimentalism of antiques.  The stories and history behind them.  Especially mine because my pieces are from family.  An extended family that I didn't know very well, but loved to hear stories about.

When my mom died, two and a half years ago, my sentimentalism grew.  I added old family photos to the living room and took as many things with me that were hers.  I have all of her jewelry and many pieces of clothing.  Never mind that she was 37 years older than me and 4 inches shorter - I wore her Talbot's blazers with pride, even though my wrists looked way too long.  Over the last six months, I have really started to donate a lot of her clothing.  Chris told me that many of the things were "old ladyish", but I used to just ignore him.  Somehow I finally realized that I didn't need my mom's sweater to remember her.  I think that I may be willing to accept that with regards to the furniture, too.  Chris and I just sat and talked it through.  We can't afford to replace the furniture, so we will do this slowly.  I may start frequenting garage sales and thrift stores for great things that can replace what I choose to part with.  This won't happen over night, but I do intend big changes in the future.

As I was continuing the project of cleaning under my bed, I cleared out all of the underbed boxes and used a dust mop to eject 40 billion dust bunnies.  I kept avoiding a small, white box.  Dusting around it, and finally - late this afternoon - I pulled it out.  It was the last thing under there.  Some of my mother's cremated remains.  Gross, I know.  We spread her ashes last June when I went back to my dad's in Minnesota.  There is a ashes-spreading-garden-remembrance-area at the church I grew up in.  They also put up a plaque inside the church so you have a place to go and remember if you like.  I couldn't spread any ashes.  My dad, brother and husband did, though.  The whole idea, when it was right there in front of me, really bothered me.  My dad decided to save some of the ashes and split them into baggies (YES, he really did this) and gave me a bag.  To save.  Under my bed.  So when I found the box, with the baggie inside, today I thought about the reason I had it there.  I think I have my mother under my bed because my dad gave her to me.  Just like the barrel table and the crystal lamps.  

I called Heather to ask her what I should do with my mother.  She asked me what I thought I wanted to do.  I said, "I want to throw her away."  Heather kind of freaked and told me that I should spread her ashes somewhere beautiful.  I told her about last June and said that I couldn't do it.  So, we talked it through and decided that a part of this cleansing process involved getting rid of things that bring us down.  My mom - under my bed - bugs the shit out of me.  So I told her that I would close the box up tight and put it in the recycling bin (which is drier and cleaner) in case I changed my mind.  She hung up in total agreement that this would help rid me of the memories of my mom's terrible death.

So I picked her up and carried her outside to the driveway where the cans are.  Harrison was playing basketball with a neighbor kid who looked very strangely at me as I put the box in the can.  Inside, I was all - hey buddy, leave me alone.  It's just a box!

About 45 minutes later the phone rang.  It was Heather frantically asking if I had thrown my mother in the garbage.  "Of course I did - you told me to."  "Well, I changed my mind.  Go get her.  I'll go with you and we'll take her to a mountain top and spread her ashes together."  I think what really happened is that her husband found out what we were up to and couldn't believe it.  He made her call me back.

So, my bedroom is cleaner and my mom is still under my bed.  It's a compromise.  Just like the furniture for now.


blackbird said...

I think that Heather may be a bad influence.

(Can you hear me speaking in my mom voice?)

I'm kidding - and I'm glad you didn't recycle your mom. But I do think she should go on a shelf in the basement or the top of a closet, okay?

zeghsy said...

my house makes me feel the same way. which would explain why i feel like crap and never want to be there and as a result don't feel grounded. god, i have to clean. ugh.

mireille said...

This is a great post. My mother died 15 years ago, and I have much less to remember her by (which, per your article, might be a good thing in terms of feng shui), but I still keep a kleenex with her lipstick blot on it in a box with her pearls. Never gonna let that go -- but it would be fine to spread her ashes if I'd had them. I applaud your efforts to clean up and clean out. xoxo

Anonymous said...

I understand your reasoning behind wanting to toss your mom's small amount of ashes, but I'm glad you retrieved it. I think you 'might' have regretted it later. I'm not one for keeping ashes stored on a shelf or in a closet, though. The ashes are a part of where your mom lived her days, but it's not your mom. Why don't you set it free (the ashes) - the mountain is a beautiful idea. For that matter you could launch the ashes into the air at any place that meant something to you. My father just passed away two weeks ago and we are dividing up his ashes into three places that meant a lot to him, including the sidelines of the football stadium in my hometown where he covered the football team for over 35 years. But good for you and working through the stuff in your room. You'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. I also appreciate what you are doing with this cleanse program. I honestly don't think I could do that, for that long. Have a good weekend!

Psycho Kitty said...

Did you read "The Higher Power of Lucky"? (Kid's book shmid's book.)


Anonymous said...

Lurker stopping to say:

This writing leaves me breathless; it is so well put together! I am not a writer in the least, but I know riveting writing when I come across it.

I'm glad that your mother's ashes will have a more lovely new home. Most times we just have to work through things. Good job figuring out which direction to work in!

Lorelei (Seattle)

NICOLE said...

I'm so glad you saved her ashes and are waiting to spread them! And if you would like some extra support, I'll happily hike with you to the top of that mountain!

Can we please get together after Wednesday? My schedule is absolutely insane until then. xoxx

Frank said...

I think spreading your Mom's ashes on a mountain top is a wonderful idea and you all have some beautilful mountains out there.

belleplaine said...

I always say that my ashes will end up for sale at a rummage sale one day. If I'm lucky. It's such pressure for people to deal with the ashes of their loved ones.

I read somewhere that Dorothy Parker's ashes drifted from office to office at the New Yorker for years because no one knew quite what to do with them. Don't know if that's true, but it seems plausible.

Great blog, excellent writing. You make me laugh. Thank you.

Jan said...

Good grief. I just came here for the first time through the link at dooce and suddenly got confused. I thought I was reading about myself. I am working through the same issues with my mom... including the (still beautiful) teak table and chairs and lowboy that I refuse to get rid of and nearly broke up over with my fiance when he pointed out that they would not look right stylistically in the dining room of a "country" house we were looking at, a very cool restoration of a barn. (Couldn't afford the house anyway.) And some of my mom's AND dad's ashes are still in baggies under my pillow. I about to start a marathon of clearing my garage that's still full of her things, even after making the people at Goodwill so happy last September (she died at the end of July). My therapist is urging me to make sure to take breaks and recreation each day or take some days off. It surely is draining and difficult. Hugs to you.