Soul Cleanse, Act Two

Part Two in a Three-Part Series

I am purging my mother’s house, what the Swedes call a “death cleaning.” Although she’s still alive,  a jump start on organizing this cluttered house seemed easier now than after her passing, But there is no perfect time.

This house will always be haunted with the memories of an exceptional life: a young woman, fresh from art school, honing her artistic talent through the years and unlike what I now witness on a daily basis–the disintegration of a human being who, in my life, has always been so confident and strong. Her loss of identity has become part of my heart.

I can’t toss these memories in a trash bag, along with the rubber band collection and dusty cans of Glade and newspaper clippings. What will I do with all the things I can’t bring myself to throw away?

Soul Cleanse, Act One

Part One of a Three-Part Series
There’s no iced tea in the fridge. No beach towels on the clothesline, only weatherworn clothespins laden with dew. My mother’s favorite chair sits empty, a soup-stained throne awaiting its queen.

She’s not coming back.

I’m here for a month, at the island farmhouse of my childhood, with its fifty years of scrapbooks and hat collections, colored pencils and muffin tins. Room by room, I flit, pruning the weeds of a once brilliant mind. Armed with plastic totes, a fresh box of contractor trash bags, toilet cleaner and my pink Do it Herself toolbox, I’m cleansing the soul of this house.

I find multitudes of notes scrawled in her once-meticulous handwriting: “Church Sunday and Wednesday.” Her name. My cellphone number taped to every doorway. Baskets. Yankee magazines piled high. Broken pens. Thirteen spiral-bound notebooks, filled with sketches and daily observations.

I’m exhausted. just looking at it.