Last night, I finally decided to open the two boxes of my mother’s things that my stepfather had carried with him when he came up from Florida in June. I wanted to open them right away, but for some reason, I just couldn’t. These are the last two boxes of mom’s things. Over the four years since mom has been gone, everything else has been divided up, shipped out, given to friends, sold, or donated to Goodwill. So the boxes sat in the corner of the bedroom for weeks. I’d move them to clean, think about opening them, and decide to do it later. I’d move them to a closet when guests were visiting, take them back out, think about opening them, and then just leave them. I had no idea what was in these boxes. My stepfather said they were just some papers and things that he thought we might want.
But last night I was home alone, the evening was quiet, so I decided that it was time. I opened the first box. The first thing I saw was a plastic zip lock bag. I pulled it out of the box, opened it, and reached in. The bag was filled with watches and jewelry. I burst into tears and collapsed on the bed. Mom was a jewelry designer, and here were more of her wild creations. Earrings that spin and twist, bracelets made of reimagined found objects, and a necklace that was filled with crazy bobbles and bangles. And then the watches. How many watches did one woman need? There were elegant watches (no numbers, just one little jewel to mark 12), a modern plastic watch, and then a classic Timex. This box was filled with mom. I could feel her energy pushing at the cardboard sides and the out of the top. I had the urge to close the box back up and save it (and her) for another day. I placed each piece of jewelry on the bed, trying to remember when she made it, what she looked like wearing it, and thinking about who might wear it now (some of the stuff she made was way too wild for me, but one of my daughters can carry it off).
I decided to just stay with this bag of items for a while. I went and got some silver polish and a rag. I sat on my bed polishing up the earrings and bracelets and necklaces until they shone like the stars peeking into my windows. I looked at all of these memories just sitting there on my bed, reminding me of a woman who was just as spectacular, creative, somewhat wild, and elegant as these pieces of jewelry she made with her own hands. I closed the box, taped it shut, and vowed to spend this kind of time with mom on future quiet evenings across the summer.