the breadcrumbs we leave behind…

I have had some sewing boxes of Mom’s for a number of months now that are, quite frankly, taking up more room than they should. I keep moving them around, intending to eventually sort through them and clean them out.

A few days ago, while Scott was out of town, I put a movie in the dvd player and settled onto the living room floor to do some sorting. My goal was to find the duplicate spools of thread and give those to Ryann, my son’s girlfriend.

I opened up the two sewing boxes and found thimbles, numerous spools of thread, bobbins galore, packages of needles…all housed in the top section of the containers.

Underneath she had elastic, loose buttons and hemming tape. And then I ran across a couple of things that made me kind of chuckle…

Two of the things Mom really liked:
1. nice clothes
2. order

Mom had beautiful handwriting. The handwriting of an English teacher. Her years in the profession only strengthened her purposeful shaping of each letter. Remember that green strip of paper that wrapped around your early elementary school classroom? Each letter, capital and small, written in cursive? That’s how Mom wrote on a daily basis. Perfect cursive writing.

So I dug deeper. Pulling out some tangled bobbins I discovered that the couple of buttons I found earlier were only the tip of the iceberg…

It was a little overwhelming. Packages and packages of extra buttons. All meticulously saved with their meticulous descriptions. “My new blue dress.”, “Anna-Margaret’s hot pink dress”, “Greta’s engagement dress.”

I had to just sit back and laugh. “This is SO Mom.” Before Alzheimer’s began tricking her mind. Before she forgot how to read or write or even cared about such things. This was when Mom was Mom. Careful. Intentional. Exact. A clothes fiend.

{What an unexpected gift of moment.} I was able to be present for a few moments on a Fall afternoon with the quirky memories of my mother.

My sister and I were talking with my cousin, Tricia, this past weekend. Tricia’s mother (Mom’s older sister) just died of Alzheimer’s too, a few weeks ago. As only Alzheimer’s survivors can relate, my sister commented on how one minute they are in such a grotesquely horrid state. Then immediately after they die, your memories go running back to the Before. Back to remembering them as they once were, years and years ago. And kindly, that’s where our memories choose to stay. We block out the Alzheimer’s years and remember people as if they had died with the diagnosis, not their actual date of death.

These extra buttons, meticulously marked, represented the good and not-so-good about Mom. They were a very telling story of who she was. They represented the MANY times I threw a pair of pants over a hangar, only to be made to ‘hang them up correctly’ once they were discovered by Mom. They represented the appreciation for organization that she also gifted to me. And I suppose they also represented the times when I look at one of my own family members with “awe” that they didn’t button the top button of their shirts when they hung them in the closet.

The breadcrumbs we leave behind are sometimes sweet and sometimes…revealing. But we leave them nonetheless.

We can only hope that after we die, those that find a nugget of our lives will smile and laugh at the crazy neurosis we all possess. And feel that they’ve been able to share another Moment with us, between two worlds.

What breadcrumbs are you leaving behind? What unexpected things will your children and family find one day? I cringe at the jokes that will be thrown in my general direction when my kids go through my things. I know they will laugh. Maybe that’s the biggest part of all…

I know they will laugh.


Other items of local and period interest that I found:

Dad’s writing for my 1st Hour Home Ec class at Palmer Jr High! AND, it had the pattern for the infamous vests we made.

And teacher buttons…

This was in no way a sad afternoon. As I laughed at Mom, I laughed at myself. We are all strange little creatures. The yoga salutation ‘Namaste’ means ‘The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.’ After going through Mom’s sewing boxes I wondered what the word would be for ‘The crazy in me recognizes the crazy in you!’ A chuckle and a smile knowing she would be saying, “I know, I know, I know… But it’s what I do.”

2 thoughts on “the breadcrumbs we leave behind…

  1. Oh my Greta, by far this is the best post!!!! So very true….. I can see Bobbie with the trash bucket taking away my junk sale finds….

  2. I am so glad that you shared this story. Funny thing, my aunt has been going through my grandfathers things for the past few months since he’s passed and I met her at his house last week. We were going through things in the attic and what did we find but my great grandmothers sewing box and a huge tin coffee can fully of buttons! Beautiful wooden, crystal, colorful buttons! I guess my grandmother didn’t have the organizational gene though since they were all just thrown in a can. But at least I can use that as an excuse for not being so organized (i didnt get the gene) =) I also thought to myself that morning…what will people say about my stuff after i am gone. A chuckle would be a good thing! =)
    have a blessed day my friend!

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