Mom, a Small Desk, Garage Sale and the Grieving Process

Eleanor Van MeterIt’s the last day of May, the last day of my extended Memorial Day time off from work and another “first” since Mom passed away from her diseases. With every first, comes another moment to remember things from the past, with one thing leading to another. I’m sure that feeling will ease up after a year passes and I suppose everyone goes through this experience in one way or another in the grieving process. With the spring and summer months upon us, I find this feeling happening more frequently than before.

Yesterday, I had a garage sale in hopes of getting rid of some of the old and in with the new, although you won’t be able to buy much “new” with the money you might make from a garage sale! It’s no matter though, one of my goals has been to start clearing out the basement and besides, it’s good to be able to see a part of the basement that has nothing in it. Now for the other half of the basement and another garage sale in September. You can’t move on and grow in life until you start to clear out all of the old skeletons and cob webs, which is another reason to get rid of stuff.  It lightens your load and creates organization in your life. Once everything is out of the basement, after the sale, nothing goes back down, it gets thrown in the truck and brought right down to the local Goodwill or some other place that might help others in need.

garage sale 2That being said, it was about 4:30 pm. I was sitting outside just waiting until 5:00, at which time, I would start gathering everything that didn’t sell and start loading the truck. Right then a car pulls up with 2 woman and a lively little girl. The driver gets out of the car seeming to have an urgency about her. She asked me, if I by chance had a small desk? I paused for a moment, thinking, should I say anything…am I ready? You see, I did have a very small desk that I had bought for my mother when she had first come to live with me, before her dementia became obvious. She had specifically asked for a desk for her room where she could sit and write letters. I found just the thing on Craigslist and upon seeing it, I knew it was just what we needed to fit into her room comfortably. Although she didn’t use it much, that little desk meant something to me and reminded me of her. So, it sat in the basement taking up space until I felt ready to let it go.

Photos: above: (1) Mom a few weeks before Leukemia and dementia took her, Below: (2) Mom in California typing at her tiny home desk when she was still working.

mom_typewriterSo, after the long pause, I finally said to the woman, it’s your lucky day. I do just happen to have a very small desk. Would you like me to have it brought up from the basement so that you could look at it? She replied yes. We brought up the desk and it was exactly what she was looking for. She said that she had been to every garage sale in the area looking for a small desk, even going to some stores but they were much too expensive for her budget. I had a good feeling about this lady and her daughter was a little delight. I ended up selling my mother’s small desk to her for $20.00 which was much less than I had paid for it originally…like I said, I had a good feeling about her. They loaded it into her minivan, paid me and before she got into the car, she said to me, I’m starting a child care program at my house and I am trying to gather what I need on a limited budget. That was all she needed to say to make me know inside that I had made the right decision in letting the desk go. The desk had found a good home for a good cause…a match made in heaven. My mother would have approved. Sadly enough, I have no photos of the desk, which almost seems impossible but even so, it was a good day!


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Dementia Patients and Who They Leave Behind, the Grieving Process

Mom-babyme     1946-graduate

It’s been a week since Mom passed away of her diseases and the house is feeling very empty. I’ve paid a lot of attention in my earlier posts to the struggles of both the afflicted and the caretaker. Now, I am learning about the dementia patient and who they leave behind, in this case me. It’s been a long week and I am feeling like it will also be a long journey to work through the grieving process.

If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would have had my mother with dementia living with me, I would have laughed at them. Now here I sit after having her in this house for 6 years while taking care of her needs, wondering how I will ever get used to the void she’s left behind. In her older years, she didn’t live a huge life, but she filled a very special space in this house which will be forever missed. Even with Vladimir here, along with all the commotion that surrounds him, the void is obvious, hitting me in the face the minute I walk in at the end of the day.

m0m-b0at-profile   Mom-Tonya

The above photos are of: (1) Mom holding me, (2) Mom’s graduation photo, (3) Mom on a boat on the left looking very young and at peace on the water, (4) Mom and Tonya in August 2014, one month before her death.

We have found Tonya the dog, laying at the end of where her bed had been, leaving me to believe that she is very depressed as well. I put one of my mother’s blankets and a piece of her clothing down for her to lay on until she works her way through it. I rescued Tonya about a year and a half ago and they hit it off nicely. Tonya had grown to love her and my mother loved her back. That in itself was unique since my mother wasn’t a dog person. In the past few years she had forgotten that she had OCD, so having a dog became a non-issue. She loved having company in the house and Tonya used to follow her all over the house during the day while she was still able to walk around. Tonya almost seemed to protect her…knowing her routine and would instinctively know when she was off course.

Mom was cremated yesterday and the process felt very long although is was only 6 days. I will be leaving work early tomorrow to go and pick her up. Even though I am not Russian, it’s Vladimir’s tradition to have a little private ceremony honoring the person on the 9th day, which is tomorrow. We will do that, displaying a few photos and sit to talk about the fun times that we have spent with her. According to tradition, we will do that once again on the 40th day. It is believed that she is still in the house for 40 days before she goes on to her journey.

From my experience, this first week after is filled with sadness and denial…the do you thinks and the I wishes thought pattern going around and around. Along the journey, I sense that there will be a lot of reflection and deep thinking which will bring up a lot of emotion. Let’s see how it progresses.

Hopefully my path will help someone else in their grieving process.

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