Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ashes to ashes

They all fall down. On a Saturday night in January of 1996, the house that I grew up in, the house that my dad grew up in caught on fire. My family was homeless and although it is just "stuff", it's hard when you don't have your comfort items. Sunday morning, a ward from the closest LDS church building came out to help us haul everything out of the house to keep away vandals. Everything was boxed up and shipped to two storage bays. This last weekend, my family and I went through and started to clean out one of the storage bays. We went through all of the burnt, ruined, blackened, stinking things to try to find something worth keeping of a past life. Many of the things were my Grandparents' things that they had or brought back from Nigeria, Africa. Others were heirlooms from even further back than my Great Grandma. Others were things like my mother's wedding china and her good silver. Letters, diaries, notes, cards, books, clothes, toys, pictures; these things that are just that. Things. We got by without them for so many years, so why go back and keep anything. I know they were on our minds for all of those years. Many of these things were not forgotten. Zora, Puff, Garfield clocks, burgandy dress, various books, the Vibrason, pianos, bookcases, and many other things we looked for as the bay was slowly cleaned out. There were tears that we tried to hide, short words due to pain we were trying to hide, and so much laughter. It really was like opening a time capsule and going through it. We did throw away an enormous amount of "stuff" that was either too damaged to keep or really was just part of the "stuff" category. It still makes me tear up and even cry now, in my own house I am living in with a family of my own, to smell the few pieces of furniture that we are trying to salvage. The antique dresser with carved claw feet still smells like that retched, awful night. It brings back memories and feelings I haven't had in a long time. Even back then, I was more stoic about the whole situation, knowing that my parents were going through a very awful, difficult, and traumatic time. Even back then, in my selfish adolescence, that I did not nor would I ever want to be in their situation of trying to deal with the loss of many of their precious items, the loss of their home, trying to find a roof to put over their children's  heads, put food in the mouths of the family, and clothing on their backs. We literally had nothing but the clothes on our backs and had to rely on the kindness of strangers to help get us back on our feet. As a mother now, I cannot even imagine the stress that must be for a family. And to make things even harder for my parents, my mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while we were living in a dinky little apartment. I am impressed that my parents were able to keep it together and keep us all together during that difficult time. Unfortunately, we still have half of a storage bay and another to go through. Hopefully, we will get this done and over with. Thanks Mom and Dad for being so great!!

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