Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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February 4, 2013

Prowling through my mama’s house

ASHLAND — Late last week, I made a quick trip up home to go to my mother’s house for the first time since she died and to pick up some things she wanted me to have. My daughter and granddaughter went with me because one of the things we were bringing home was my mom’s car.

At first I felt a little guilty at wandering through that 18-room, three-story house and poking through drawers, cabinets and closets. Those feelings faded as our explorations continued and we began to giggle.

My mother called herself a collector. An organized semi-hoarder might have been a better description. Her china cabinets held not only china that’s been in the family for generations, but odds and ends of kitsch that might bring a quarter at a yard sale.

A crafty lady with ideas continually flowing through her mind, my mother saved things she might use in the future. That leaves us to wonder just what she had in mind for the cardboard tubes from paper towel rolls and empty cat food cans she’d painted green, but I’m sure she had a plan.

Having survived the Depression, my mother was always concerned that no one she knew and loved went hungry. That explains the loaded cupboards and freezer, but none of us are sure exactly why she had bottles and bottles of fruit punch, all unopened, in several places in the house.

When we peeked into the dressers in the hall upstairs, we discovered that if any of us want to change careers, we can become doll makers. Yes, there are oodles of plastic doll heads and limbs, which I suppose at one point were meant to be used with the yards of uncut fabric upstairs to make cloth dolls.

My mother left me her collection of crackle glass, much of it made by Pilgrim and Blenko, two glass companies from here in the Tri-State. That was carefully wrapped and boxed up for the trip to my house here, and I’m pleased to say every piece made the trip without breakage.

Naturally, with so much to choose from, we filled the empty places in the car with items not quite so valuable. I grabbed the big blue granite roaster from a stack of such pans and my daughter brought a half-dozen pie servers and the big meat pounder.

At my sister’s relentless urging, we also raided the freezer. My son, when we stopped at his house on our return to drop off some things, was quite surprised to receive three dozen English muffins, a pound of butter, a number of packages of meat along with nearly every Pyrex dish my mother possessed.

He was even more surprised to learn we hadn’t brought all the English muffins from the freezer, and that it looked nearly as full after we filled three small boxes to bring home as it did when we first lifted its lid.

My house is not nearly as big as my mother’s, so I’ve tried to be judicious in what I’ve brought home, despite my sister’s reminder that half of the big house’s contents are mine and so I absolutely must include all the empty saved mint boxes in my share.

My daughter was in my corner on that one, though. She agreed that I needed not to overdo, as I chose to take this and leave that to be sold to settle the estate. But I finally realized why she was urging me to be absolutely certain before I took another thing — she knows who has to clean out my place once I’m gone, and she doesn’t want to deal with the dozens of coffee mugs and slews of advertising pens one more time.

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