Monday, August 20, 2012

If You Love Your Children . . .

I gave a speech, once, with a recurring motif of "If you love your children: . . . "  (I'm a Toastmaster, I'm allowed to give speeches for no reason in particular.)  There were three sections to the speech.  The first was: Write a Will.  The second was: Prepay Your Funeral.  And the third was:  Have a Living Will or Medical Power of Attorney on File. 

These are important things.  If you do these things, your children will bless you.  Well, unless they're the sort who are always looking for drama, and you shouldn't be encouraging that anyway. 

But if you really love your children, you will LABEL ALL OF YOUR PHOTOS.  This applies particularly to photos that have been in a box under your bed for decades, photos that you never take out and reminisce and share stories over.  I may have to start a blog called:  Who The Hell Are These People?  (Yes, I did notice that I've written about this before.  The photos still aren't sorted and labeled, so the irritation continues.)
I will give Mom credit.  Last year she brought over two boxes of pictures and we labeled all of the photos that she could identify.  Unfortunately, she didn't bring the other four boxes, including the ones that she had inherited from her mother (and that were possibly inherited at least once before that).  Some of these people will never be identified.  Some of them might.  There's a chance that some were identified in other photos.  But a lot of my second cousins look very similar as toddlers.  If the whole family is in the photo, I can go by birth order, but singletons are mysteries.

Now to the guilt.  I felt very guilty when I started throwing away vacation photos.  At first.  As I got further and further into the box, I became almost gleeful.  It was liberating.  If it's just a photo of a mountain or a lake, with no person in it and no date and no clue who took the vacation, it's going.  Sorry.  Bye, bye.  If the people by the lake or the bridge are too small or too blurry to identify, it's going.  Postcards are going.  Joke postcards are being hurled into the waste bin.

I feel just a little guilty about some of these just because they were kept for so many years.  How do I know?  Well, after the fifth picture of Great Grandma B standing next to her car to show that she was on vacation, I started tossing those, too.  So they would have been hers, to start with (or Great Uncle L's - he lived with her for years, and may have taken the photos).  Then they would have been kept by Grandma B, then by my Mother.  I am breaking the chain.  Sorry.  I can get a better picture of that lake on the internet. 

I also feel a little sad about the milestone pictures and the way they accumulate.  There are multiple copies of my Mother's high school graduation picture, for instance.  Some are unsigned and others are dedicated to other relatives from her.  It's obvious that the photos went out, and then, over the decades, the relatives died and the copies slowly collected back.  I've been able to toss multiples of me and of my kids.  I haven't tossed one of Mom's graduation pictures, yet.  I may be able to find homes for them.  We'll see.

I'll write about other things that were collected some other time.  Hint:  you folks who started collecting pre-1964 silver coins from your pocket change when the sandwich coins came out made a good investment.  Buying coins as an investment doesn't work as well; but you folks who didn't pay anything but the time to roll them and the space to keep them came out nicely ahead.  Or rather, your kids will. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Maybe Should Have Mentioned

In between my Mother being diagnosed with cancer in March and dying in May, I had knee replacement surgery in April.  The knee had completely gone, prior to that.  Some days I could get by with a cane and some days it was crutches.  Mom didn't want me to put off the surgery waiting to see how things would go.  Then things went faster than any of us expected.

Three things have kept me from feeling hideously guilty about going ahead with the surgery.  Two of Mom's friends, DeeDee and Paula, formed a wonderful support group for her, and my Youngest Son more or less went to live with Mom, except for during my actual surgery and the first weeks back from the hospital.  Then his Devoted Girlfriend took over driving me around while he went back.  He was the one who took her to the emergency room when she started to be unresponsive and, weeks later, he was the one who was with her when she died.  In beween, he ran all her errands and kept her in contact with the rest of us with an iPad and Facetime.  She loved that. 

It's been about three weeks, now, since the pain has gone.  It's odd not to have it there after all these years.  It's started building up around 1999, give or take a year.  So I have my mobility back, but I need to build up the muscles that weren't used, not just after the surgery, but for months before.  It's embarrassing the little it takes to make different muscles sore.  And if I make the mistake of thinking that I'm a regular, fit person, I end up pulling something. 

I'm still behind on a lot of things and it would be nice to put in some straight-ahead hours catching up.  But I have to potter instead.  I always think both that I'm not doing enough, that I'm using the weak muscles as an excuse to be lazy, AND that I'm doing too much, that I'm risking racking myself up so that I'll have to take time off.  It's a very busy sort of laziness. 

Time to let the dogs out.  Whatever else happens, the day is always punctuated with looking after the dogs.