Thursday, January 6, 2011

Detris and Debris

She didn't have much money and lived on a fixed income in the late years of her life. She usually found some type of employment which she said was for the extra money but I suspect she did this for the interaction with other people as much as for the added income. For a while she worked at a hospital then she did some baby sitting and elderly care. She lived alone after her children were grown and on their own in her small cozy home.
Entering this home, a shelf, wooden and plain hung at eye level on the wall directly across from the front door. Pictures of family and friends surround the small shelf making it less notable. The shelf held gifts sent to the woman who lived in this unassuming home surrounded by detris and debris of her life.

Some may protest the description of her belongings. To her they were her treasures but to those whose chore it was to clean out her house after her death, her things were just detris and debris to be disposed of as cleanly and quickly as possible. Look around at your things and imagine who would think them of any value.

Her home was neat and clean. When money allowed, she committed to it's upkeep and moderization. A son would maintain the yard when he could and when he couldn't she paid someone to mow. She planted flowers and bushes along the driveway and walks that bloomed and bought her pleasure during her summer months.
A long porch, floor boards stained a dark brown with railing waist high, held a porch swing at one end. Many hours would be spent here crocheting and occasionally for afternoon naps.  Though she obtained a driver's liscense, she was timid about her driving skills so depended on family and friends for trips for her shopping.

Many visitors passed into and out of her life here. She loved having these visitors and welcomed everyone with food and drink and conversation.

Occasionally a friend or family member would gift the woman with a cup or a shot glass or maybe a thimble collected from their travels. The woman would make room on the little shelf opposite the door for these little gifts.

Another shelf separated the kitchen from the living area. Three tiers high, these shelves held a collection of blue and white ducks. Ducks flying, squatting and sitting, or standing with one leg bent, motion indicated, crowded each other for room on the horizontal boards serving as a room divider.

On the little shelf on the wall, among the collection of cups and thimbles, sat one cup considered by her to be more important then the others. A cream colored cup, speckled with brown flecks and a picture of wildflowers decorated the front. In script below this picture, was written "Wyoming". This cup called no attention to itself, it's colors muted and shape nondescript. It was but another collectible among the ducks, thimbles and cups but it had a special use.

Any extra cash collected and saved by the woman was stashed in this cup. Only two people knew about her secret savings account. The woman knew as did I.

Occasionally when visiting, we would make sure the door was locked before we removed the secret cup and recounted the money.

When the woman passed away, family members were given their choice of momentous. The money long gone and used for everyday expenses, the cup sat on the shelf beckoning.

I queried the room about selecting the cup and there wasn't an objection to my having it.

I chose the cup that I had purchased many years before as a gift to my mother and today it sits on a shelf opposite the front door alongside a little ceramic blue and white duck.  It is no longer used to hold money but only the memories of her secret cup. I look at that cup as a measure of my mothers' security. It holds her drivers' license, her Hardee's pins and the men's wristwatch that she wore when alive.

This is what I consider valuable in my home but may be considered detris and debris by others.


  1. Nothing better than memories of our loved one that aren't with us anymore I am so blessed to still have both parents at my age. Your mother was here to visit a while before she passed, I hadn't seen her for many years but I did remember her, she was a nice lady.

  2. We've both been thinking of these little mementos this week haven't we? We are very alike in that the little things we chose to keep are the ones that evoke the most memories. xxx


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