July 30, 2013

Finished

Yesterday, my husband and I returned to the nursing home where my mother-in-law lived for the last 15 months of her life. He went out to the desk to talk to the staff, to thank them for the care they’d given her.

I went to her closet with a large plastic bag. One by one, I took each item off the hanger. I’d bought most of the clothes, mainly nightgowns in her favorite colour — blue — although sometimes I’d added a pink or aqua for variety. I’d used to black marker to write her name on the inside of each gown, so I read her name over and over again as I folded each gown and piled it into the bag.

The wooden drawers held pants and shirts, already folded. Some I remembered from the days when she could still walk, when we'd pick her up for holiday meals or other outings. I found the coat she wore the Christmas before last, and shoes she hasn’t worn in more than a year. The bag was just about full when I finished.

The staff had already stripped the bed, covered it with a plastic covering. My brother-in-law had stopped in before the funeral for her rosary, her bottles of Lourdes water, and the photographs we’d propped up on the shelf by her bed. Her drawers held creams, lotions, pink mouth swabs. I took some framed prints off the wall, wrapped the clock radio with its own cord.

We were done in just a few minutes.

12 comments:

radagast said...

Powerfully understated.

Elaine said...

Big lives leave big memories.

Zhoen said...

I hope to leave as simple detritus when I go.

Alice said...

Peace to you.

Martha Spong said...

(((You and yours)))

Val said...

robin andrea said...

This post reminds me so much of when we packed things up for my mother-in-law. It'll be two years in October. The last of what is left behind is almost always as brief and poignant as a perfect haiku.

liz said...

Sending hugs and love to all of you.

kathy a. said...

xoxo

Anonymous said...

Peace to you Jo(e). Thanks for sharing.

Mary Ann aka Joy

Anonymous said...

Waving as you pass by Columbia County,between Albany and Hudson (Nutten Hook).
ChrisinNY

Annette said...

"we were done in just a few minutes" and yet, not so much I am sure. Thinking of you and remembering you in prayer.