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From the Forest to the Shore, Connecticut, USA
March 12
Director of Change
An unnamed non-profit health care provider
Change is good...that's what I keep telling my colleagues. It's difficult and hard. It's challenging and rewarding. It's fraught with peril. It needs to be done...yesterday!


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FEBRUARY 21, 2011 3:46PM

Throwing my mother's memories in the trash.

Rate: 41 Flag

There were two boxes filled with her some of her memories in my study. Boxes left over from emptying her apartment almost five years ago. I'd put off this task for so long.

Still smarting from being "disowned and disinherted", I guess. I went through each item in the two boxes. Hoping to find a clue, perhaps, some indication as to why I no longer mattered in her life. There were the bank statements from the 1990s, health records, a collection of scissors, photographs of people I never knew, and events I was never a party to.

Of the three hundred or so photos, I found five photos of me. A high school photo, two photos when I was about 18 months old, a photo when when we on vacation in Maine in 1960, and a single photo from one of those "four for a quarter" vending machines.

All the big possessions, the furniture, the curios, all were dispatched a long time ago. A dining room table and a couple of artifacts are all I hung onto.

Looking through the boxes were like looking the last few years of my mother's life. I separated the paper from the non-recyclables. The paper will be recycled, The rest is trash. There was nothing else to hold onto. 

I decided to toss away my mother's memories with the same emotion that she tossed me away. None.

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I know exactly how you feel. My father was the same way.
I won't go into the details, but I can relate to this piece. Thanks for sharing. Lovely blog.
Best Wishes,
I get kinda sad when I'm at a garage sale and the photo albums are in the free box, but then again I like photography and photojournalism so I always find one that speaks to me.
This is very sad. I am sorry.
Linda -- Yeah it sucks, doesn't it?

Blittie -- Thanks.

Noah -- A garage sale would be too good, for these photos.
FusunA -- It is closure and a weight has been lifted, to be honest.
This is so strong, OE . . . so much strength in your words, and in your decision. I have seen this very thing, too . . . my partner has had to make some of the same choices, and it is so often wrenching. May taking out the trash be freeing to your spirit . . . whether or not she realizes it, it's her loss . . .
Owl -- Some people should never become parents.
Very sad blog...I can understand your pain though. Hugs.
~Leaves the pooch a steak bone~ ~hug~


Sounds like it was the best thing to do! Throw it away!!
CF -- Thanks for your kindness.

Tink -- You are one compassionate computer geek.

NeilPaul -- Hope you haven't had to travel this path. I got no answers going through her stuff; not that I expected any. Yet, it would have helped to understand the "why."

Rough deal. Have you posted about this before and if so please point me to it? I am fascinated by how parents can be so hostile to their own at times – my experience with my now deceased mother still leaves me perplexed. Wishing you the best.
grif -- Here's an earlier blog from 2009

Bonnie -- Thanks for your comment.
Know the feeling. Sorry I do. Sorry you know it, too.
I'm sorry, sometimes there are no other words. Hugs and R
I deeply respect your strength in letting the boxes go.
i know ... oh how i know.
Mac -- I appreciate your comment, I really do.

Blu Speck -- Thanks, it means a lot.

Rei Momo -- Thanks.

Chuck -- I think there is a "monster" in almost every family, if you know what I mean.
How horrible. I can't imagine disowning my child, no matter what. Take care. R
This was my life too. and yes it sucks. -R-
Fortunately not my story, but man I can empathize, Sheepie.
Sheba -- You must be a good mom. Thanks.

Christine -- Sorry it had to happen to you, too.
I'm so sorry. i hope it helped.
Cranky -- I wouldn't wish this on anyone.
Trilogy -- I needed the extra room, and the timing was right.

John -- Clearly that's not in your DNA. Thanks so much for stopping by.
this is so sad. thanks for writing about this...As you can see from the comments you are not alone.
I want to think I would do the same with my dad's stuff if he had left us anything but I always held on to that one question that I could never get answered....Did you love me dad?
I feel your every word...
raw and honest post
don't know the back story, don't need to
may you find peace
I understand. You have done what needed to be done. Now you are done with it all.
Sheep, this had to hurt and I feel so bad for you. To not even know the reason is worse. I hope you can put this somewhere in the back recesses of your mind like I keep the bad things in my life.
That was ceremonial. breathe and enjoy the next bit.
I went back to your 2009 post and re-read it. I guess this cleaning out has been a long time coming. So many similarities in terms of the constant criticism.
Thanks for sharing this.
I am going through something similar.....my mother passed last April and I have spent the last year separating her all her posessions into various categories: items I want (and can) keep, things my brother wants, things her brother and his family wants, items to donate, items to auction and (hardest of all) items which need to be disposed. It was difficult at first....until I watched a few episodes of the show "Hoarders".....out of the several I watched, most of the hoarders started the same way, "When my mother (or father) died, I could not bring myself to get rid of her (his) things." Their problems stemmed from that. Hearing them helped me get off my butt and make the difficult decisions.

I wish you well.
Mimetalker -- Never would have thought it would resonate with so many.

LL2 -- Thanks for your kind words. I feel for you, too.

FC -- thanks

Janie -- Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't need to expend the energy...putting in the trash seems to feel "right" to me.

vanessa -- thanks.

Tom -- the curtain finally rings down on this tragedy.

Sheila -- Precisely.

Scanner -- There was no "rosebud" moment, so this puts the finish on it.

dianaani -- Ceremonial...like a commencement.

grif -- You and I are both better people than we were perceived to be. Remember that, please.

Shawn -- I am only child which made the rejection worse. I got rid of most of the stuff shortly after she died. This was the final farewell.
Very moving piece. I think I know where you're coming from. I struggle all the time with the notion that we have to love those you clearly do not love us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
i've written extensively about my father and stepmother, but never about my mother. you would understand why. i'm glad the boxes aren't in your study anymore. peace, sheepie.
And at the end of the day, their stuff is just stuff, and mostly garbage at that. Sigh.
I work on trying to make sure no one has to throw my stuff out, I'll throw it out before I get there. Having done this with one father, and several times for a mother who is still alive, and likely a few other family members one day, I want to just have it ready to self implode.
I'm so sorry. This is heartbreaking.
Good on ya girl!! When bad memories are attached, throw them in the trash.....
Me mother has been gone for a year and the same type of thing happened.

I left a lot of stuff behind and continue to walk away from it all, looking toward the future, whatever may come.

Hugs and hugs.
I feel for you. I am glad that you are able to take some action. You deserve love and patience every day. You are a wonderful writer.
I'm sorry, sheepdog. Very sorry.
...wanted to weigh in here. so sad. so glad you can separate yourself from that mess. r, for your raw honesty and clarity. xo, e
AA -- that sums it up all right.

Femme -- Yeah, me too!

OB -- I understand.

Unbreakable -- I'm moving forward not back.

Susie -- Thanks.

Zuma -- back at you.

nola -- thanks for the compliment.

Froggy -- thanks.

e -- thanks.
Sounds like your mother was very resolute about her decision. I would wonder why also. Did you ever ask her directly? My mother is still alive and although she has never absolutely disowned me we are not very close, never have been. Every time I reach out to try and invite her to hang-out, or invite myself (that's the only way I'll get one) I just get pushed away with excuses like "Now's not a good time" or "I'm just too busy."
A modern-day rite of passage: retrieving your box(es) of old junk from your parents' house after they die. Thanks for posting this. I hope you find peace.
OE, my heart grew heavy as I read this and your earlier piece. I completely agree with the comment Cartouche left there, that your mother's self-hatred is to blame for the suffering she put you through. It might have helped had you found some evidence in the papers she left behind as to what caused her to feel the way she did. It might also be, as someone here suggested, that she suffered from a psychological disorder that went undiagnosed. In any case her problem created a tragedy that affected you both. Your strength and character enabled you to survive and prevail, and I'm glad you've now been able to jettison the detritus of those unforgivably painful memories.
This is very sad. It is a rare family that has few conflicted feelings, but disowning and cutting off is drastic, and reflective of way too much pain. Hugs to you