21 August 2007

What memories are made of...

This post was written for and submitted to Scribbit's Write-away Contest.

Her first obsession (that I remember) was with the color purple. It did not matter what the object was, she always bought a purple one. There was a store at the mall called "The Color Purple". When she discovered it, I remember thinking "Holy crap, there are other people out there who have a color fixation?" Never in one place have I seen so many people decked out in purple - purple shirts, purple jewelry, purple handbags, purple socks. Purple hats.

Her collections evolved over the years. Magnets, Coca-Cola memorabilia, watermelon arts and crafts, and cherub angels adorned our house. Regardless of what the current trend was, her interest in it grew exponentially, and she just ended up with a lot of junk. We lived in a modest sized home,and when she ran out of room to display all these things, they'd get stashed in a corner somewhere in her room. Eventually, she had piles upon piles of bags with unopened items in them, tags and all.

I was oblivious to the rise of this problem until she passed away. I was the first one to go through the house and begin to organize and sort through her things. I've known several people to enjoy "collections"... but to find garbage sacks full of receipts and Christmas cards dating back 20 years? That was a sign of something more like a compulsion. It turns out that she met the criteria for a psychological condition called hoarding.

When collecting "stuff" becomes a hobby, few things hold any real value. I discovered picture albums of my children, jewelry and art work that I'd given to or made for her, still in their original box. This caused me great sadness, to know that all the piles of junk comforted her and kept her company, while things that were thoughtfully picked out by those who loved her left little impression. Hoarding gave her a false sense of security... it helped her fight off the loneliness she insisted upon.

I've never had an ongoing collection of my own. I have a strong aversion to the whole idea. I know that collecting things is not unhealthy, but it was taken to such an extreme in my home that I'm leary of it. There have certainly been things I've liked well enough over the years, though.

When my mother visited us after the birth of our first son, she brought me a willow tree angel in the shape of a little boy hugging his dog. It was a perfect addition to the puppy themed nursery, and I loved its simplicity. It now sits on my secretary with a few others that have marked special occasions, and has become part of a tradition. They represent our ever growing family.

I bought my first antique bobbin at a tiny second hand store in southern Utah. The significance of it was that it was the first real decorative item I'd purchased for our tiny apartment. I loved the aged wood and the different shapes and sizes they came in. I loved that something old could become something new, as I'd chosen to use it as taper candle holder. I now have a bundle of them on top of an antique chest I inherited from my great aunt. Such unique and beautiful objects that hold a bit of history as well.

The first water pitcher I bought was for the top of my cabinets in the kitchen of our first home. I was bound and determined to stay away from those fake silk plants everyone else was buying, and it looked so elegant up there. It just didn't make the statement I wanted all by itself. Suddenly pitchers were catching my attention in every store I entered. But I bought only enough to fill the space I'd designated, and I think they say a little about who I am - eclectic and creative. Each pitcher is completely different from the next... one has polka dots, one has stripes, another a toile pattern. One is white, another is blue, a few are multi-colored.

I am content to have just a few of these things. I remember the circumstances under which I bought or received each one of them, and they are of value to me because of this significance. I love the idea of them getting passed down, generation to generation... of becoming heirlooms and telling stories about me and my life, my personality and my interests... of representing real memories.

16 comments:

Scribbit said...

I liked the way you used pronouns only in the first half--thanks for sending this over, it's great!

Lei said...

I hope you read it after I went back and re-edited! Blogger is having issues today and would not publish my edited version!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Beautiful post! I enjoyed how you told your story. Now I just want to see some pictures of your water pitcher collection :) !!

Lisa said...

This is a great post! I also collect pitchers that had been displayed above my cabinets in a former home. This home, I can't, so I have put them away hoping to purchase some sort of furniture to put them in one day.

Michelle said...

Just beautiful! I love how you tied the story together. I am definitely intrigued by your pitchers and would love to see what they look like.

Morning Glory said...

Lei, this was a wonderful writing. What a great way to express the whole idea, and how sad that your mother suffered from the need to hoard.

Gabriela said...

I love it. I'm not a collector either-just a few special things.

Thanks for sharing it.

Yvonne said...

What incredible writing--you definitely have a wonderful gift. Wish I could write a comment that would do your post justice. Hopefully thank you is enough.

Dee Light said...

What a thoughtful post, and so honest. I enjoyed the way you linked your past experience to who you are today. I'm sure your thoughtful gifts were meaningful to your mother, even if it was not in the way you intended.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

At least she didn't collect cats and dogs. Mounds of random stuff is bad enough without being accompanied by mounds of animal excretions to go with it.

I collect dust. It's extensive and fills my entire house.

utmommy said...

My neice loves the color purple too. She wants everything purple.

I don't have a collection either.

Leucantha` said...

Hi, I am stopping by from Fabiola's blog. You have a lovely site and I really enjoyed this well written entry.

Tammy said...

I really liked reading this so much!

I agree...it can be good to have a collection...but collecting with moderation is probably best!
Before I was married, I did my share of collecting...but I've lost my zeal for this and lean more toward simplicity these days.

My mom has always tended to overboard...and now with us trying to ready her house to be sold, we are left with trying to help her decide what to get rid of and what to keep...and as a pack rat, this is very hard for her!

Thank you for sharing this, Lei!

Lauri said...

First of all: Thanks for your comment on my blog!

Moving on: I love this story. I tend to hoard fabric...I just LOVE it for some reason. But, none of my mom or dad's family ever collected or saved anything, so there is nothing to pass on or anything I can have to say, "This is from my Grandma", and that makes me sad. So I do collect a few things-mostly sewing related-like fabric, thimbles and pincushions, fabric, quilts, OH, and did I say fabric? lol!

Also-I left a comment on your post about '5 Things' and 'Praying'...so check that out and I'm serious, if you have any questions, let me know!

Lucy said...

I agree with Scribbit. I love your purposely vague use of pronouns. It's kind of like we, the reader, grew up really quickly with you. Beautiful.

I'm glad I read your blog. I actually wrote one of my own and would never have known about it or thought about the topic. It was fun to think back on some things.

Mountain Dweller said...

Thanks for sharing your story, I really enjoyed it and agree that it is probably better to collect a few special objects, rather than a lot of clutter.