Monday, June 18, 2012

Moving On, With Stuff

It is Father's Day and a really big day for this family of mine. We are dispersing ever more of Dad and Mom's possessions, emptying this house of belongings gathered and cared for over two long lifetimes. Queta and Mary just left to pick up a one-way rental truck. John carted off things he'll store at Kate's until he returns in July and can pack for shipping to Houston and North Carolina. Caroline arrives at 9:30 with two kids in tow to pick up the things she checked on that master spreadsheet that Kate and I sent to seven grandchildren.
We are sharing so many stories about this trove of belongings. Yesterday, Mary was teary eyed as she looked at the Gero stainless flatware Mom and Dad used on their table for forty years. Mary picked up a long ice tea spoon and said, "When I was little, Bama would hand me one of these spoons to eat ice cream covered with Hershey's chocolate sauce. This spoon reminds me so much of Bama." Mary asked for the Gero flatware and she now she has it to use every day, just as it has been used for 50 years.
After an entire week of contemplating, I decided last night that I really would use Mom's china soup terrine and so at last, it was covered with bubble wrap and newspapers and stowed in one last box I'll ship to Houston. Don't you love it? Why did I hesitate over this one? My sister Kate chose a matching casserole dish and a relish dish. We're both happy with our decisions.
Yesterday, Queta found two of Dad's hand hooked rugs high up on a garage shelf, totally overlooked. We spread them out and John said, "I remember that rug. I used to sleep on that rug. I'd come into Mom and Dad's bedroom in the middle of the night and curl up on that rug between their beds." 
Lago Oil & Transport, Co. provided twin beds for all employee households. Some couples shoved their beds together and their youthful babysitters considered this scandalous. At some point, Mom and Dad pushed their twin beds together and we have a photograph to prove it. Here's John lounging on Mom and Dad's beds way back in the day.
Mom was a great cook and we all loved 'Bama's Beans'. Laura chose, not only the kitchen tile topped table, but the original bean pot. It's well used, with little cracks around the rim where juicy beans bubbled over the lid time and time again.
For decades my mother and my grandmother shopped at Syracuse China's factory outlet store in Syracuse, NY. This longtime company produced china for railroad dining cars, hotels, restaurants and school districts as well as for home use. My mom had a weakness for dishes and we ate from Syracuse china plates all our lives. She bought this complete set for twelve in August 1953 for $100. How did Mom remember these details so clearly? 
Mom used to tell us how she packed it up in one of those overseas round blue international shipping containers and sent it to Aruba. Just days ago, Kate and I persuaded John to take this set of china, thinking of the annual Thanksgiving dinners that he and Trish host for extended family and friends. How could they go wrong? These dishes have been on our family table for 60 years. (Sadly, Syracuse China closed its doors in 2009 after 138 years of operation. Wikipedia pronounces that production was moved from North America.)
Here's John and Dan moving a Lago dresser destined for Lauren's bedroom. I hear that Lauren herself emptied the drawers of her old dresser and organized her clothes in the 'new' dresser. All by herself. 
Her parents hauled the old damaged dresser to the street with a 'Free' sign and within an hour a young couple stopped their pickup at the curb, said they'd take the dresser for their new nursery and away it went. This happens a lot in Seattle. Put something on the curb and it's gone by morning.  I should do more of that in Houston. No waiting for heavy trash, if the throwaway is not quite trash.
John found a cardboard tube that held Lago's 50 Year Commemorative Calendar. I'd never seen the calendar, which has six watercolors of landscapes and places we remember well. I love this image of the refinery across the Big Lagoon. Pure and simple, it's home. 
I've got more stories and more pictures, but the wifi connection is suddenly erratic, so I am off to bed. This week has been suffused with the narrative of our lives. We are dispersing Mom and Dad's possessions, and yet, at the same time, their belongings seem to be tying us all closer together. We are passing on 'their stuff' and it appears that our efforts are all about family. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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