I was still living “at home” when my mom passed away in the summer of 2009.
For a long time after her death my dad and I didn’t touch anything in the house; we didn’t rearrange the furniture, take pictures off the walls, or move a single decoration. It’s as if everything was preserved just how she left it and if we moved anything, it made the reality of her absence too real.
Then, gradually, as the years passed, we became more comfortable with moving things around.
Later, when I moved out of my childhood home and into my first apartment, I took a lot of those things — her things — with me not only because I was broke and needed items to decorate with, but because they were my mom’s treasures; the things she found at yard sales and antique stores. In her lifetime, she cherished all of these trinkets and whatnots that she collected through the years, and I couldn’t stand the thought of not having some of them close to me.
Everything has a memory and there’s a story about my mom that’s connected to most every item I’ve kept. For example, I have literally watched this woman pull a piece of wood off of the old barn behind my grandparents’ house and then bring it home and hang it on the wall as if it were a piece of fine art. But, to her, it was.
You see, she loved to hunt for antiques — the older and dirtier the better — and she would drag me along, much to my dismay. As a child and pre-teen, I thought antique hunting with my mom was the absolute worst. I just wanted her to take me to the mall, but she instead had me plundering through other people’s dusty old cobweb covered belongings at the Tobacco Barn (one of the best places to buy antiques in Asheville, NC).
Looking back on those times, I am so thankful my mom took me to places like that. She probably didn’t realize it then, but she created with me some incredible memories and instilled in me this same joy for things most people call junk.
When my mom died, she didn’t leave behind a jewelry box full of precious stones. Rather, she left something better. She left her years of memories sitting on shelves and hanging on walls.
Those chipped antique dishes, scrap pieces of wood, dirty old windows, and creepy vintage dolls are far more valuable and precious than any piece of gold or diamond that money can buy.
Since my husband and I bought our first house in May of this year, I have been working to decorate it exactly how I want it. Much of my mom’s “old stuff” has found a place on our walls and shelves and in various rooms throughout.
My mom has been gone for nearly 10 years (which is crazy for me to wrap my head around), but having her treasures all around makes it feel like we have a little piece of her in our home.