My mother’s closet has only been hers.
When my parents bought this old farmhouse 50 years ago, it had one closet — a tiny one, at that.
While we kids put up a rope swing, my father put in closets.
Bi-fold doors must have been in then, because that’s what he installed — in his closet, my mother’s closet, my sister’s closet, and my oldest brother’s closet. The rest of us didn’t get closets; we had cardboard wardrobes.
I stood outside my mother’s closet the other day, hesitating to open the door. It has to be done — the cleaning of it, I mean. She’s been gone over a year and a half. My son is staying in that room. And he sure could use a closet.
But I stood there, not wanting to look again at what’s inside.
The brown wool plaid skirt. The green skirt with Greek meander border. The dress she wore at my wedding.
The ruffled blouses that she wore to dress up.
The housecoats, even.
They’re housecoats, for crying out loud.
But I can picture her standing in the kitchen wearing them, making our lunches for school.
A woman I know lost her house in a fire recently.
Is that how you want to deal with your mother’s things? a voice whispered in my heart. I knew it wasn’t God, because He didn’t burn my friend’s house down. He doesn’t threaten to burn houses down. I saw, however, in my mind’s eye, my fingers being forcibly pried off the things I’m holding onto.
Is that how I want to deal with my mother’s things? No. Absolutely not.
But they must be dealt with.
Garbage? No. That’s wasteful. My mother was never wasteful.
A yard sale? No — I don’t think I could bear watching people paw through her things.
Donate to the church’s rummage sale? No — same reason.
I think I need to box it all up and take it to a donation point in another city. She would want some good to come of it all.
Then, I’ll have to look at an empty closet.
And mourn a little, allowing the closet’s history to move just a wee bit distant into the past.
Before my son moves his stuff in and the closet has its second occupant.