Edra Ziesk reflects on the clothing left behind @ The Millions.
We kept finding my mother’s jewelry all over the house. Before she died and for a long time after, things turned up in unexpected places: her pearls in the washing machine. A strand of coral in the freezer. Rings squirreled inside the palm of a leather glove. Some things never turned up. They probably never will.
Like her jewelry, my mother disappeared a little at a time. She lost words, searching for what she needed in a sentence, her chin tilted up, as if they were small, elusive birds, visible but just out of her reach.
She’d always over-explained when telling a story, taking the long way, wandering off on tangents – I used to say she needed an editor. But later, she got lost inside her stories. They became mazes she couldn’t find her way out of, even with assistance. When she paused, chin tipped up, trying to catch one of the little darting birds, we made offerings – Pin? we said. House? Father?
She lost the ability to read, to communicate what she was reading. Eventually she just sat in the rocking chair in the living room where she’d sat every day with the paper, reading, then pretending to read, then pointing to the colorful ads in the circulars.
She’d loved flowers, loved to garden, the niece of a horticulturist. In her final spring, I went out to their yard and cut every flower in bloom. I put them in a vase and brought them to her but she didn’t know what to do with them. She’d forgotten how to inhale.
The losses – of self, of words, of her jewelry – were disturbing to my father, so it was a surprise that, within weeks of my mother’s death, he wanted her clothes out of the house. Everything, gone.