Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sorting Treasures

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post about spring cleaning and how hard it was. I also shared a story about sorting things at my grandma’s home after she moved to an assisted living facility. I said that my siblings and I would eventually have to sort through our mother’s things as well.

Well, that time has come. A few months ago, my mom moved to the same facility that my grandma spent her last days in. My mom spent 66 1/2 years on that farm. All but the last 7 were with dad there as well.

Over the last few years, us kids have been trying to get mom to sort through things so there wasn’t as much for us to go through. But, after so many years there and with failing health, mom just wasn’t up to parting with much from the past. Everything had memories and sentimental value attached.

We all knew that eventually this was going to happen and that it would be us kids who did the bulk of the sorting and the inevitable questioning of “What on earth was mom thinking saving THIS?”

Like my grandma, my mom had also started keeping a list of things she had and who had given them to her and dad. She also asked each of us kids and the grandkids what items we would like to have when the time came. It was a good start but there was so much more.

I’d slowly been making my own list of things that I wanted from the farm. When mom and I had our weekly talks I’d mention things that I’d like to have and she’d make a note of it and also tell me to write it down in my own list.

So, a few weeks ago, on a cool morning in late March, one of my gal pals and I headed out on a road trip to the farm so I could sort through the things I wanted to have. It felt a bit strange to be going there after so many years. It would be even stranger to be going through things without mom there.

In many ways, the place was exactly as I remembered it. It also felt very different.

My siblings had already cleaned out the fridge and some of the other items from the living room and bedrooms. They had moved several items to mom’s new home and also gotten a few of the things they wanted.

I had mailed a list of things I wanted to them a few weeks earlier so they would know what I was interested in having. I didn’t expect them to pack for me but I did ask them not to throw things out from the kitchen (aside from the fridge contents) before I got a chance to go through things. I knew that aside from a few books and other mementos, the bulk of what I wanted would be from the kitchen.

Going through things wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew I only had a few hours so did my best to stay focused on the list and not on the sentimental value. After all, there was only so much that I could take home with me to fit into my small apartment. For the most part, my mom had kept things in the same places she always had so it was fairly easy to find many of the things on my list.

I found my old high school yearbooks, some cookbooks and a few other books that I had given my parents over the years. There were a few pictures and mementos that I wanted to have. I found the old folding step stool that my mom got in the early seventies. (more on it in a future post). I came across a few things I’d forgotten about. Things I didn’t realize that mom still had. I didn’t have time to go through all the closets, bedrooms and other nooks and crannies where mom stashed her treasures. I hit the spots that I knew I would be most apt to find the things that I knew I wanted.

I spent the most time in the kitchen. We sorted through the items still in the pantry. I went through mom’s seemingly endless collection of Tupperware and other plastic storage items.

I told my friend stories about things as I came across them. She has grown up with many of the same things in her home so it was easy for her to relate to a lot of the things.

So what other treasures did I bring home with me?

I found the Wear-Ever cookware that my mom had always used! I loved that stuff and have a few pieces that mom and I picked up at garage sales many years ago when I was first starting out on my own. They don’t make pots like that anymore! I took the blender that my parents got on their 25th anniversary in 1969. I grabbed the old heart shaped cake pans that mom used to bake a layer cake in for birthdays or for Valentine’s Day. I found the set of measuring spoons that looked like little shovels. I loved using them to measure things for recipes! I got the 1 1/2 quart Corning Ware dish and lid that had come from grandma’s.

I’d forgotten about the six Sylvester coffee mugs that mom and I had found at a variety store many years ago. There was a set of eight drink glasses from the bar cabinet. I also nabbed the remaining contents of several bottles of liqueurs to use for desserts and other recipes. Okay, some may also be used for a drink or two!

I came across a set of stainless steel mixing bowls that mom had won in a curling bonspiel a long time ago. I found the tall set of wooden salt and peppers that I had bought for mom when I was a teenager.

One of the treasures that I really wanted was the rectangular pie pans! Yup, rectangular! Mom doesn’t remember where or when she got them, but says they were quite popular in the 1950’s and she had them before I was born! They make the equivalent of a regular round pie – just in a rectangular shape that was designed to save on oven space. The end pieces just had an extra side of crust! I don’t make pies, but these are great for baking things like a pork tenderloin or a slab of ribs in. They are also handy for baking any number of other desserts or baked items if you have limited oven space. I’d gotten one from mom many years ago but she had two more – and I had dibs on them!

We only touched the surface of things in the farm house that day, but I found most of the things on my list and a few other forgotten treasures. About a week ago, I got out for one more short exploration of the farm house and found a few more lost treasures, I left a short list of things I’d still like if my siblings find them. I don’t know if I’ll make it out again before they finish sorting or not.

Oh, there was one more item that I’ve been waiting to get since I was a young girl, but I’ll write about that in another post!


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