I went to Toronto for four days this past week. My mom sold her house and she is moving to an apartment. I went to help her pack, to go through three boxes of things that I still had there and also to say good-bye to the house and the street and the neighbourhood.
My mom had done much of the packing already. Her biggest chore was going through keepsakes that my dad had received during his 30+ year career as a politician. Tons of plaques and certificates and photos honouring him or commemorating some event. My mom found it hard to throw away photos of my dad, even if it were a photo of him standing beside a delegation of Greek officials in Scarborough's sister city in Greece. Or with some community leaders at an Art Night or at the opening of a new factory or warehouse or whatever. Apparently she has a whole Rubbermaid tote box filled with these types of photos in storage now that "you kids can deal with when I'm gone". She did take them all out of the frames and dropped the frames off at the Value Village near her home.
My mom told me that there were three boxes of things that I had to go through before she moved. When I got "home" though, there were actually 4 (five if you count a small box that had gift in it). The first box held my collection of music boxes. I had collected them as a teen and young adult. I am not even certain how many there were altogether - probably 20. I carefully unwrapped each one, wound it up and listened to them before I wrapped them back up and returned them to the box to be dropped off at Value Village. Some I had almost no memory of receiving or buying but others brought back the memories of the giver or the occasion in which they were received. Some of the music boxes were so pretty sounding (while others were not) and some looked lovely and some were down-right creepy (a stuffed clown with a music box in him - ~shudder~). I chose four small ones to keep. Well, two for me (they were the prettiest sounding) and two for my two nieces who live in the Toronto-area. I told my mom we'd drop the rest off at Value Village and she was horrified! "But they are your music boxes!" I know but I was not going to lug them home and Stephen did not want them in our house and besides, there is no place in my home to display them. "Fine", she said "I'll keep them!". What?? We actually argued over those music boxes. Boxes that were not hers, that she insisted I deal with yet when I did, she decided that she had better plans for them (to be kept in her storage unit until she dies and I have to deal with them yet again).
Another of the boxes held some gifts, a few of which were wedding gifts (oops!). Some crystal candle holders, a crystal vase, a crystal candy dish, a serving dish what was silver-plated, a thermos coffee server and a few other items including a gorgeous crystal basket that weighed a ton! I did not keep any of those things - again, I decided to take them to Value Village and my mother would not hear of it! In the end, she kept the coffee server and crystal basket, we gave the candy dish to one of her neighbours and Ramona took the rest to sell at a garage sale in the spring. For some reason, that was less offensive to my mom (selling them at the garage sale) than taking them to Value Village. In fact, my mom was so delighted that Ramona was going to take them that my mom quickly donated many other boxes of items to Ramona's garage sale that her car was packed to the gills when she left my mom's house!
The third box was labeled "Stephen's Life" and it was photos albums and high school yearbooks, awards, keepsakes, books and framed "art". My mom and I spent a couple of hours each peeling the old photos and news clippings out of the albums. I took pictures of Stephen from his yearbook (I wish my mom had a scanner) and we dropped off the empty albums and the rest of them items to Value Village.
There was a fourth box that held *my* grade 9 yearbook; that I brought home; two diaries and my high school diploma as well as some other books. I had a blast this week reading through the diaries. I am a tad bit embarrassed at how dramatic I was (always "so depressed" when boys did not call or like me or whatever). I am horrified at the lack of caring about school (I never did my homework or studied for tests - showed in my grades) because I was busting my hump working at BiWay (a discount store) umpteen hours each week. I would never let my kid work so many hours during the school year! I was making $2.40/hour (it paid more than McDonald's where Ramona and Leah Ann worked for $2.15/hour) and I worked from 5-11 2-3 evenings each week and all day on Saturdays (back then, there was no Sunday shopping). I did not have time for homework or studying! No wonder I did no do it.
Anyway, one of the funniest things in the diary was back in '81, my mom and my aunt went out bought themselves some jeans. My cousin was horrified that women "their age" would wear jeans. My mom was the age I am now! And I wear nothing BUT jeans. Funny how times (and ones perspective) change.
I am happy for my mom that she is moving but sad to say goodbye to that house. It was our home and only our home (my parents were the original owners and they moved there in November 1958). I hope that my mom will be happy in the apartment that she is moving into. It is only 5km from my her old house, a little closer to my aunt's house, close to a little plaza with a grocery store, banks, cafe, and some other little shops. Close to a bus line if she decides she does not want to drive. Right on Lake Ontario so she can stroll along the bluffs and (if she lived on a higher floor), could look out over the lake.
Not going "home" to see Mom will be strange. I mean Toronto, no, Scarborough, will always be "home" but the house was "home" too. All that familiarity and memories inside of things and people that made me who I am. I will miss that.