Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mother's Legacy

One of my Favorite Needlepoints.  Done on 22 inch canvas

Take what you like and leave the rest

As much as Mother tried to always do the right thing, there were a couple of areas that were blind spots for her.   For instance, one of her favorite sayings was "A place for everything, and everything in it's place" -- which sounds great.  The reality is that she never did get around to showing me just HOW to Find a place for things.  I do come by my lack of cleaning skills honestly.

One of her rituals was that every so often, she would pull all the toys out of my closet and tell me to sort it into three piles: one pile to keep, one in a bag to throw out, and one in a box for Good Will.
I was confused, because after I had finished sorting, she would inevitably put everything back into one box and shove it back into the closet.

 It took me years to figure out that I was sorting the same stuff over and over again.   (I was not a terribly bright child.)

Now, Mother was not cruel or demented. She was merely suffering from well-meaning-itis. She really meant to send things to the Good Will, but she would get very busy, and the stuff would be in the way, so she would try to get it quickly out of sight. She would see the Good Will box just sitting there and, not thinking, she would dump everything into it and shove it back into the closet to get it put away.

To this day, I find that 'things' pile up. They multiply when I am not watching them. especially on my desk or work area.

But this week, it all caught up with me.

It started as an ordinary week, with lots to do, but not nearly enough time to do it all. My one day off was eaten up by family needs and the rest of the week had to be fitted in between various responsibilities. Thursday evening, I finally got a chance to get to my art-work, but I couldn't find my desk.

I supposed it was still there, there was a lump of papers and 'stuff' where my desk used to be, but no desk in sight.

Now, I am used to working in a small area. (Which is absurd, for my desk is quite litteraly 13 feet long--it's the side of one room. You would think this would be enough room for anyone. But most of the time, I end up doing my art in about six square inches of space.) But I couldn't even see what color the desk-top was. I remembered it being a white, I think. But there was no desk-top in sight.

I knew what this meant. Obviously, I had to (shudder) organize and clean.

My first Husband used to say that I would rather eat worms than clean--which is saying something, since I am a vegetarian.
He was right.
I hate cleaning.

But strangely enough, under certain circumstances, I love to organize. The circumstances are that there has to be some small place where I can start to put things away into. Otherwise, it is just frustrating.

So I decided to organize my desk and the shelves that surrounded it.

Starting was a problem. There was nothing that I could see that I knew where it went, so, I dove into the bags. (In our house, lots of things end up in bags)

Ah, last years taxes! I wondered where they went to.
Oh, yes! And that picture of Scottie when she was just a puppy.
Oh, look, the card Michael gave me for Christmas last year, and right next to it in the bag, the hand-colored picture that my niece made for me.

Slowly, I began to make headway. But all too often, I would come across something that would tug on my memories, or I didn't really want to chuck, but couldn't justify keeping. I managed to throw out at least seven paperback books that had no covers (legacies from Mother) and several half-finished drawings of my own that I never wanted to see again.

I mentally cursed every teacher who ever said "Now be sure to keep these papers, you might need them someday."   I actually found a report card (mine) from 1957.

I figured it was finally safe to toss it.

I even managed to throw away some half-finished art projects that I never wanted to go back to.

It was exhilarating. I felt so virtuous! After finding several inches of space on a shelf or two, I managed to make room to put some things away. And after a mere several hours, I had found my desk-top!

I was right, it was white.

In profound relief, I flopped into my reading chair and stared at my handiwork. By no means was the desk cleared off, but progress HAD been made, and I had almost a whole square foot of space to do my artwork!

As I mentally patted myself on the back, I thought about my Mother. She had tried so hard to give me the skills that she thought I would need, but this was an area where she, herself, was lacking.

I looked at the desk, which still had far to go before even the most generous person could call it cleaned. But the wastebasket was full, so I got up and carried it outside to the trash.

Mother would have been proud.


  1. Oh, thanks for the giggles, how this made me laugh, because I could have been writing it myself, in fact, I've been getting distracted while trying to clean off my real desk and my "arts and crafts desk" for a week now and here I am again, distracted by the computer and a blog post I could have written myself. Now I'm laughing so hard I can't even see through the tears in my eyes, so off I go to get a tissue and maybe sometime tomorrow I'll make it back to my desk(s). Thanks again and good luck. Smiles

  2. So glad you enjoyed it. Sadly, so many of us can identify.

  3. I am good at cutting stuff out, but I get too overzealous and many times lose stuff I end up needing.

    and I can take away the Goodwill stuff, if it doesn't rain again (weird weather for Bakersfield in June)

  4. :D Thanks for the giggles. Good thing you called it "Mother's legacy." For a minute there, I thought you were blaming "it" on your mother. :P

    My mother was a pack rat, and my father was super clean. Between the two, I have a generally clean and neat house, somewhat organized drawers and closets, places to stuff things quickly in a pinch, and a tendency to hold onto to things too long.

    To this day, my mother is unable to find anything she puts away. Her cabinets are never organized. Ask for a pot? She has no idea except that it's in the kit in a bottom cupboard somewhere. Ask for scissors? Good luck in finding them, but when you do, you'll likely find the entire shoe box that I collected as I packed her last house so she could move to this one. The promptly lost the box after moving in.