Monday, November 28, 2011

Corn on the cob

So the woman who watched tearlessly as her mother’s body was placed in the mortuary’s somber bag wept as she threw away a bag of freezer-burned corn on the cob. Perhaps it will make more sense when I explain that the bag of corn might have been one that the same deceased woman labored late into the night one year to prepare for the freezer. And that made me think of all the sacrificing she had done over the years to provide for her family.

The other connection was that both items being disposed of were kind of worn out and no longer needed. I have every confidence that Mother’s spirit had departed her body by the time she was enshrouded by the mortuary worker. And the corn might have been as much as 29 years old and would probably not have been any good even if we had used it. But still, it might have been some that Mother froze for us that summer, and so I had postponed throwing it away.

That and about two thirds of the things that were in the freezer. A few bags of shredded zucchini from 1993 (my youngest daughter who is now possibly dating her eternal companion was almost four years old at the time I stored those). Several packages of chicken that we had gotten when we thought it was time for a batch of fried chicken (a batch that somehow never got fried). A $15 package of “fixings” for paella which I remembered so fondly from my missionary days (but which turned out to be far more complicated to prepare than I imagined at the time of purchase). Ice cream container after ice cream container of stored juices—peach, apple, and even green tomato!—from canning days many, many years ago. The plan had been to can them during the winter season. But multitudes of winter seasons have come and gone and still they sat in the freezer. This afternoon they are sitting on the trailer ready to go to the dump.

This seems to be a time of kneading emotions. There was the clean-out of Mother’s home, where she would have lived for 50 years had she been able to stay until the first of November. Tons and tons of things stored against potential need, a trait that all her offspring share but one that has been carried out to the heights of accomplishment by a sister who has storage units in three different cities spanning the whole country (plus, I would feel confident, two very full apartments). I have to admit to some tears as I left the house for what I knew would be the last time, a house where I had lived as a teenager and returned to many times as an adult, a house that was somehow always just about the same but would no longer be.

Our daughter and her two daughters have been here almost a month. We have spent enough time with the two grandchildren that they know us and are comfortable around us. It will be sad to see them leave, knowing that it will be several more months before we get to see them again. Will they remember this time the next time we meet?

One of our friends has had to sell a beautiful Greene County farm due to a serious illness. His mourning over the loss brings back many of the other losses both past and pending. You don’t want to color it all brown so that the hurt is less, but remembering what was once better and now is not is so terribly hard.

I guess the secret to all of it is that we should never let anything mortal become too important to us. And sentimentality, although an evidence of a sensitive spirit, shouldn’t hold us hostage.

So now I think I’m going to go eat one of the Dove ice cream bars which were uncovered in the clean-out. We had apparently hidden them from easy view so that the kids wouldn’t consume them locust-like which would have prevented us from enjoying them for a special late-night treat. No, it’s not late night, but I did scrub out the big and little freezers, so I deserve one!

Here’s to mortality lived in the here and now. And here's to managed freezers!