For whatever reason, I have repeatedly been in the position of making final calls on what little pieces of my mother’s life are thrown away, given to charity, or left in a box for another round of tears and broken hearts. Right after she died, I had to go through files upon files next to her chair of things she’d cut out of magazines and throw them away. Every time I felt like I was throwing her away, as if she were somehow contained in the little projects she used to fill her days before her heart gave up on life and the world moved on without her.
Every time I’m left to wonder about life and legacies. It makes life feel so short.
All my siblings went through my mother’s art after Aria was born and each quietly left it in the pile where they found it, myself included. It had been up in my dad’s attic and my brothers thought it would be nice to go through mom’s stuff together. I think I preferred it where I’d left it a decade ago when I went through it the first time. Now it’s been haunting my basement for three months, waiting for me to decide what else of my mom to throw away. Of my mom’s. I know the distinction matters, though emotionally I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to separate the two.
My sister helped me a little on the whole finding peace. It’s so hard conceptualizing how much time my mom put into her art, only for it to be boxed or given away. TL said mom drew for herself. It didn’t matter if the art hung in a house or an office or went in a box. Maybe I have trouble doing things just for myself, maybe that’s why I have such a hard time with this. I used to think life was more about legacy than living.
Well, I’m going to get back to it. I promised myself I could pick up Aria early as soon as I get this painful task done. Then we’ll go for a walk. And fifty years from now when my daughter is deciding what of mine is worth keeping, maybe she’ll have learned that I’m still with her, that my things don’t matter, that my legacy is the sum of the hundreds of walks she and I took together.
But here for you, dear daughter, is my mother’s art. She loved animals and nature. She internalized the beauty as she drew.