"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn

"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Mother's Legacy

No. She's not dead.

She's in a nursing home for a few weeks of rehab. Apparently she's doing much better. She's eating. She's making friends. She has more energy.

YAY. seriously. sigh of relief.

I didn't call her when she had her new pacemaker placed.
I didn't call her on Mother's Day.

I did go to her apartment today to start packing up her stuff. Since I couldn't bring myself to visit or call her, it's the least I could do. Sister Melanie Sister Adrienne and Sister Halona visit and call. I offered to throw her shit out.

I'm good at that.


Monday at work, one of the medical assistants was talking about her grandmother. How her grandmother was so poor as a kid that she ate saltines with milk and sugar as a treat.
A lot of the ladies were like what???... crackers with milk and sugar???... I've never heard of that.

I remember my mom telling us stories about growing up dirt poor during the Depression. They would pour milk over stale bread and sprinkle a little sugar on it and that was the meal. She said for a special dessert, they would sprinkle sugar on lettuce leaves and roll them up like cigars.

So I shared, and then the ladies started remembering stories or habits, mostly of their grandmothers. Most of the stories revolved around food, or the lack thereof, and paper products. One of the students remembered her grandmother unfolding paper napkins and tearing them up into quarters and getting stressed out if they used more that one napkin.

I repeated one of my mother's mantras don't use a tissue, use toilet paper... don't use a napkin, use a paper towel... don't use a paper towel, use a sponge.

Dr. Arlene looked at me and said but you didn't grow up poor.
No, but my mom grew up poor. So our habits growing up were part Depression Child and part Flower Child.
We were taught not to waste. Especially food.

She would cut off the green moldy part on the edge of the bread or cheese and we didn't think twice about eating the rest. It's fine. Just eat it.

She would stick her nose in all the containers of really old leftovers and make garbage soup.

We never got sick.

Bruce to this day is astounded by what I'll eat.

What?!? It's perfectly fine. I scraped the fuzzy part off.

He's also astounded that I never get sick from eating old food. And I tell my kids it's fine. Just eat it.

So Mother's Day, after Ty's cello concert, we hit McD's drive through. I was tired and not at all willing to cook dinner.
And I needed to hear mom you're the best mom in the whole world we love you mom one more time.

I, however, had my taste buds set on Saturday night's leftover pizza.
I get a bizarre satisfaction from eating leftovers.
No money wasted, no food wasted.

We got home, I turned on the oven, and Bruce walked in right behind us. Home much earlier from the restaurant than expected. Nice.

He asked me if I had eaten and I said no I turned the oven on like half an hour ago. I'm gonna heat up leftover pizza.


Oh. Right. Left the pizza in the oven over night on plastic plates. Forgot that part.

Pre-prozac, this would have left me in tears. Sunday, I was able to look at it and laugh. I was not, however, able to throw it out. I cut away the melted plastic and ate the rest. It was delicious. Bruce kept offering to go out and get me something else. He thinks I'm crazy.

I am.


So. Cleaning out and packing up my mom's place today.
I got aggravated at the ancient, outdated bottles of medicine.
The sixteen open packages of panty liners.
The pieces of once used aluminum foil carefully folded up to be reused.

Then I thought about my own kitchen cabinets.

expired vitamins
like 2005 expired

I also have several once used pieces of aluminum foil carefully folded for reuse.


I packed her clothes. The top dresser drawer was filled with jewelry boxes. At first I just packed them up too, carefully nestling them between socks and panties and scarves. At some point I realized some of the boxes were empty save for a square of cotton bedding. OK fine. So I started checking each box. Jewelry. Old coins. A stack of 20s.

a necklace


I called her
it was good


  1. Amazing. I got goosebumps from your last few lines and the photo of the necklace.
    Glad it was good.

  2. Happy that you called her and that it was good.

    I have many squares of tin foil in a kitchen drawer. And several plastic bread bags, and used/cleaned ziploc bags, far too many plastic chinese food containers...

  3. Wow. I can just smell those jewelry boxes.

    I let my son throw out moldy bread tonight. I wanted to tell him toe cut off the green parts, but he was already sort of being an ass, and I needed to avoid the argument.

    It was a tough day.
    I completely love this post.

  4. Having chickens helps with the problem of what to do about food that may really not be fit for human consumption any longer. As you know, I am sure.
    This was a beautiful post, Michelle. I have such similar problems with my mother. Our relationship is- okay- the reality is, there is no relationship. But still, I know she's in me, all the time. How can she not be? She is my mother.

  5. And I don't think you're crazy at all.

  6. We're all weird in our own weird ways. I love you, just eat it lady.

  7. Oh my gosh Michelle, I was not expecting that. I got chills when I read and saw the ending. All through my whole body. I'd gotten so lost in your stories and then wow.

  8. Your cleaning up is a far better gift, in my opinion. Glad you called her, though. I wish I had that option. This was my first Mother's Day without my mom. She made me nuts (and who I am today), but I miss her like crazy.

  9. I'm glad you called her, and I'm oh so glad it was good.

    Love you, Michele.


  10. I'm so glad that you called her and it was good and it's so funny to see the parallels of your lives in the way that you had expired medicines and she had expired stuff and the foil....I reuse foil all the time, my husband says I'm crazy but it takes 6 months or sometimes a year to go through just ONE roll of foil!

  11. Oh dear, dear Michelle,
    Having lived with Rodney's dad, we find ourselves marking time by When He Was Born (1920) and what people could live with then, as constrasted with that we can live with now. Rich territory, my friend. I'm glad you called her because the big lesson for me has been You Can't Go Back. So do what you can with love right now, which you clearly do every single day.

  12. You ATE it??? Can't get over that.

    The mum thing is so big. So big. Glad it was good.

  13. I had read your mother's day post & your mention of the sealing wax necklace. I knew she still had it & I'm glad you saw it. I'm glad you called her too.

    I know she's not easy.

    I also know you're not crazy.

    Thanks Miche

  14. i can't not comment.
    You are such a good person for calling.
    I needed to read this today, so thank you.

  15. OK..so I thought you dressed the pizza up in a hat and ribbon for mothers day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didnt realize it was melted plastic...

    and you say YOU are crazy???????????

    ...and I remember your mother...

  16. Ah, interesting how I just stumbled upon this blog. Try picturing this - a mother who's a narcissist and is in the kitchen preparing vegetables for a salad. A narcissist who'll take special pleasure watching you take a large mouthful of what was supposed to be finely chopped green peppers when it fact it was those small fiery hot green peppers. I figured out immediately what she'd done but I didn't freak - I just swallowed them as quickly as possible, calmly walked to the washroom and drank a ton of cold water. Wouldn't give her the satisfaction of letting her know that I knew she'd screwed me around. So why'd she do it? Because we'd had a minor spat before dinner; she wanted me to do the laundry on the spot and I said I'd do it tomorrow. She didn't like that...


so... wadaya think?

Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.