Thursday, October 15, 2009

Childhood's End

I'm cleaning out my mother's apartment. She's not dead yet, but they say it's just a matter of time. And it needs to be clean before she can come out of rehab. My mother is a hoarder. My mother is a hoarder's hoarder. We've carted 2 station wagons worth to the thrift store, and this is a three room apartment. We've barely begun. I found a box of Christmas ornaments from my childhood and sat down and cried.

I'm finding it hard to function--both because it's a daunting task, and because it renders everything so futile. If we will all end up like this then why should we buy anything now. Much talk with my therapist about this. That we buy things to make us happy now--the future is the future and many people (not my mother) start to weed as they get older--finding less and less that objects are important. I am already less of a purchaser and I have never been the hoarder that my mother is. A collector, perhaps, but when things don't fit in shelves, they have to go. Zen teaches the release of all things--that even emotions are fleeting things, certainly objects are.

But added to the simple stress of cleaning an overcrowded apartment, is being face-to-face with the death of my last parent. That I must deal with all the pieces that she has used to get herself through, and that I will suddenly be no one's child. There will be nothing between myself and my own mortality. Not that there ever really is, but we lie to ourselves. My mother is 85. It's hardly a tragedy to die at her age, she is two generations removed from me, but at the same time, it is relatively early in my time with her--when friends parents are young and robust at 60 or 65 now. And I have deliberately kept myself away from her, so what years we had are lost.

My therapist says too that I cannot blame myself for that either--that I did what I needed to do to protect myself, but my guilt and stress, blame and anger does not respond to such intellectual reasoning.

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