It’s been a little while since we moved my mother and I can honestly say I’m not quite over it yet, but I am ready to delve into it. Blogging is a form of therapy, seriously. I’ve been to therapists. They never tell me anything I didn’t already know – they just make me look at it, analyze it, and deal with it rather than ignoring it. Writing has always been therapeutic for me. It makes me slow down and think about what I want to say – and as such – think about what’s going on.
You might wonder why I’m saying all of this. In essence it’s because I’m likely going to over-share. These are the kinds of things you don’t tell people about. These are the kinds of things you don’t take photos of and let people see. These are the kinds of things no one should know…. but I’m going to share it with you anyway.
I knew I wasn’t fully prepared for the move. I mean, I knew she’d been letting the dog do its business in the house for over a year but really, who can fathom more than two piles of poop on a carpeted floor? Not me. I know my mom isn’t the best housekeeper, but who could imagine how bad it could really be? Not me. But I knew it would be bad. I bought a pair of those yellow, rubber kitchen gloves and brought a surgical type mask to wear (primarily for the dog hair, I have allergies to dust and dogs and her dog was a husky so it shed like crazy).
What I found when I walked into my mom’s apartment, there aren’t many words for. There are emotions… but not necessarily words. So what I”m going to do is, I’m going to share two of the photos I took. I’m going to share them and then this is going to turn into a disjointed mess of descriptions and emotions because that’s all I have of the day right now.
The smell was horrible. There were flies, so many flies. If I didn’t have my mask, I wouldn’t have been able to stand being inside there for very long. Everywhere I turned there was a new horror. A teddy bear covered in fly eggs which I knew would soon turn into maggots. The trash laying literally everywhere. The pee pad put on the floor in the dining room which was likely the cleanest area of the carpeting.
And we were the assholes. We who showed up to remove my mom from the filth. You could see it in the eyes of the neighbors. They all looked at us like “where were you?” and “how could you let her live like this?” And the answers just aren’t so simple. The answers are: We didn’t know. She lied to us. She wouldn’t let us inside. Just a year ago we were coming and cleaning for her twice a month.
And my mom sat on a chair in the dining room, going through a curio cabinet… and she looked so small, and she looked so depressed, and so ashamed…. and there I was with my yellow gloves and surgical mask no doubt making it worse but I couldn’t do anything about it. And in the center of my chest there is this hole that just threatened to suck me into it because all of this is making me remember things from my childhood I’d just rather not remember. It’s been so long ago and I’m so far away from that little girl with no power over her circumstances… and yet, seeing everything in my mom’s apartment takes me right back there and all I can do is repeat “I am not my mother” again and again and again inside my head until I somehow kind of believe it.
The things my mother takes… there isn’t much worth taking. All of it smells. All of it has a layer of tar on it. All of it pretty much worthless. She’s rented a storage shed for the things she couldn’t take to my sisters. Inside of it sits a gas grill which was cheap to begin with and which has seen better days, a clothes dryer which is crusted with filth, a set of wicker furniture which has sat outside and moldered and looks horrible, a vacuum which shows a film of dog poop smear on the inside where the brushes are and some brilliant designer decided to make the plastic over the bristles clear so you could see them working, and a carpet scrubber in equally bad shape. None of it is worth anything. None of it is worth paying $35 bucks a month to store… but it’s everything she has in the world…. a shed full of crap that I”m hoping she will take one look at the things inside one day and shudder herself, not wanting to touch any of it. The sight of the stuff in the storage shed breaks my heart and I remember again all the times my mom just up and moved us as kids, leaving so much behind every single time.