In the midst of sorting, storing, donating and just generally cleaning out my mother’s house in preparation for sale, we found a lot of memories from our childhood, as everyone does who takes a moment to linger over the effluvium. It’s a shame that so many people miss treasures because they’re too busy taking care of the “task” to spend a little time on the “opportunity” that is in front of them.

From Mom’s kitchen we saved a whisk, a thing shaped like a toilet bowl brush that she used for sixty years to create fabulous lighter-than-air meringues for pie and the chocolate cherry angel food cake that appeared every year for my birthday. The finish on the handle wore off, of course, many years ago, but the whisk still worked as long as she had the strength in her arm to use it. She always said the result was better than doing it with the mixer (absolutely right, Mom) and if you didn’t do it right, why bother?

There was her muffin pan, just like everybody else’s except that this one baked hundreds and hundreds of muffins for her to give away, including innumerable batches created from the excess zucchini from my garden each summer. Sadly, it sat unused for the last year of her life; she couldn’t trust her arm any longer to lift it from the oven. My sister took the bundt pan, I got the old glass orange juicer. There isn’t really room in our homes to store the things, but we’re just not quite ready to give them up.

I went down there alone the other day to work a little more, and I almost missed the best things so far. One of the nightstands in the bedroom was stuffed with photos and recipes, all mixed together. Some of the things were in plastic bags, some were paper-clipped, and some had disintegrating rubber bands attached. I found these things at the end of a long day, and I thought I’d just put them all in a box and sort them another time. Well, it’s very difficult to do that. You spot the first picture and it brings a smile. When you lift it, you can’t help but see the one underneath, and so it goes until the whole bedspread is full of pictures and the daylight has faded. Oh, darn, I was going to get so much finished today . . .

But wait! Inside one of the plastic bags was a frail, yellowed newpaper clipping–my mother’s wedding announcement, 1939. Oh, she was lovely. And in the bag with that piece of my history I found another piece–my grandmother’s wedding announcement from a newspaper in Blair, Nebraska, 1908. I could hardly bear to touch them for fear that they’d fall apart, but they were as strong as both the marriages. I’ll scan them into the computer, nice clean images to attach to family trees and such, but not ever the same as the originals.

For today, the treasures are mine alone. Tomorrow the family will gather at Mom’s place for some more furniture moving and such. I’ll just casually bring out the box and mention that there might be something in there of interest. Chances are we won’t get much done in the way of heavy lifting, but I don’t think anyone will mind.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.