Strollin’ Through The Past…

I used the word ‘strollin’ in my title because it was a word that Ed’s mom often used throughout her life.  She’d always refer to a shopping trip as ‘going strolling’.  She’d call me up and ask, “Kathy, would you like to go strollin’ with me?”  For many years, I didn’t know how to drive, and Vivian always took us ‘strollin’.  In later years, after I learned how to drive, I was the one who took us ‘strollin’–but we always had to go in her car.  Vivian loved her car!

It’s been a very long, and emotionally taxing week for me, as I’ve had the task of going through my mother-in-law’s personal things.  After forty-four years of knowing this fine lady, I’ve gained even more insight into her life, this week.

My week began by going to the personal care home on Monday.  I took several plastic tubs with me, and began the arduous task of packing up Vivian’s personal things.  The last three years of her life had been spent in that room.  It was a large room, the largest one in the home, and it was always immaculate, just like Vivian’s house was.  It was also filled with lots of things.

After several tearful visits with both the residents and aides, I was left alone to get on with the business at hand.  I began opening and unpacking drawers.  I’d helped move Vivian’s things into this room, now I was moving them out.  None of the drawers were arranged the way I’d originally done them, except for the bottom drawer of the chest of drawers.  The bottom drawer had been designated as ‘the toy drawer’, and I’d filled it with toys and books for Vivian’s visiting great-grandchildren.  She always told me how much the children enjoyed plundering through ‘the toy drawer’.

Next, I began to pack up the clothes hanging in the closet.  All were very familiar to me, since I’d shopped for most of them.  I’d been with Vivian when she purchased some of the clothes, others I’d shopped for, alone.  Vivian always loved pretty clothes.  Vivian had a habit of ‘saving’ a new outfit or two, for ‘special occasions’.  At her old home, it was common to find a new dress, complete with tags, hanging in her closet.  There, in her closet, at the personal care home, hung two new pants outfits, with tags still hanging…

Later in the week, I began the task of scanning Vivian’s old photographs, so the family could divide up the originals.  I wanted everybody to have a digital copy of every photograph.  As I scanned each photograph from over the years, Vivian’s life unfolded before my life.

There she was in her early role as an army/air force recruiter.  Next, as a young wife and mother.  There were a few precious photos of the two sons, who didn’t survive early childhood, due to illness.  There were several pictures of the outside of her house, some with the flowers blooming in springtime, and even a few with the rare, occasional snowfall.  Each picture documented many changes the house had undergone throughout the years.  Of course, there was Ed’s high school graduation,  his army pictures, and then our wedding.  There were several photographs of past holiday get-togethers, including many that included my parents.  Soon, I came to lots of pictures of grandchildren, and even a few great-grands, but then the pictures slowed down, just as Vivian’s life had begun to slow down…

Last night, I finally got around to sorting through Vivian’s greeting cards and clippings.  I never realized it, but she saved everything! There were Christmas cards, birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, and even sympathy cards from when her husband passed away eleven years ago.  Many of the senders have since passed away themselves.

I even found a few precious birthday cards that her husband had given her, many years ago.  I teared up when I read those cards, because the words were so sweet and familiar.  Words of a husband professing his love for his wife.  The cards were usually signed ‘WAB’, her husband’s initials.  One was lovingly signed, “Old man, Willie Bacon”.  That was so like my father-in-law!

One of these days, someone in my family will be strolling through my past, after I’m gone.  They’ll find toys for ‘the grands’, perhaps a new outfit in my closet, too.  They’ll, also, find many photographs, cards, and clippings, but there will be one difference.  My precious birthday cards will be signed ‘Ed’.  Vivian and I were both blessed.  We both knew a special kind of love from two special men.  One was the father, the other his son.

There’s a song, by Alan Jackson, that reminds me of my dear, sweet, mother-in-law. If I’d remembered it, I would’ve had it played at her funeral. Instead, I’m posting it here, in her honor. The song is entitled, “I Want To Stroll Over Heaven With You”.

This song, “I Want To Stroll Over Heaven” was a favorite of Alan Jackson’s parents. In the video, he’s singing it to his mom, sometime after his dad had passed away. Alan had just recorded a gospel album, “Precious Memories”, for his mother, and this song was the final cut on that album.  Alan’s mom is the lady in the audience, who’s singing along.

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Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 8:56 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. Thank you for sharing about this intimate task you performed for Vivian. My involvement has been more moral support in the clearing out the home of my husband’s mother.

    “It is so final,” her only daughter said at the end of a long afternoon. The process encompasses sadness and reliving precious memories.

    I know your loving and respectful treatment of her belongings is a blessing to her children. Again this comes with prayer.


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