We’re all worried just like that 1966 movie “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming….” but nothing strikes more fear in my loins than when my mother calls and says, “The Veterans are Coming, the Veterans are Coming!!!”
That means Mom has called the Veterans charity organization to come and pick up whatever unusable debris you have laying around. This helps the Veterans make money somehow and helps you the Helper-of-Veterans get rid of junk in your house. What could be a better win-win?
Mom has made this a regular affair. Her commitment to giving the Veterans a worthwhile stop at her house means she must have at least one good bag of stuff filled to the brim, preferably two or more.
The upside is my Mom is cleaning out her stuff at a pretty good clip. This is kind to her heirs. The bad news is she is running out of her committed crap that she’s readily willing to part with, and God forbid, the Veterans come and there are not enough trappings to take to far afield.
That’s when the call goes out to her daughters. “The Veterans are Coming, the Veterans are Coming!”
Sure, we could just say, “Naaa, I don’t have time to go through my possessions to fulfill your charitable needs.” But it’s a double-edged sword. We want to help the Veterans. Who doesn’t want to help the Veterans? That’s a shame we can’t live with. And, my mom knows every one of us has more garbage (pronounced gar-baaashe) than we care to admit.
I pledged my support this week and went through my own closet, my grown daughters’ closets, who don’t even live here anymore, and the laundry room, trying to fill a garbage bag to the brim, so I’d get that gold star from the Veterans, or at least from my mom. Kindergarten never ends.
In my last sweep before going out the door, I found a stack of hangers in the laundry room covered with a very dusty garbage bag. Something under there was ripe for the Veterans and whatever it was, it was going. I had a duty.
Tearing off the old bag, I found some of my mother-in-law’s clothes that we must’ve moved from her apartment to our house when she passed away almost four years ago. Oh crap……………..not the clothes, the tears. I just wasn’t prepared for that.
As I put them in the bag, I talked to Marie, my mohter-in-law.
“It’s okay, Mom. It doesn’t mean we don’t think about you all the time. You are always a part of everything we do. We miss you and love you. But, Mom, you know my mom. And the Veterans are Coming! So I’m sure you want to do your part, too!”
Thanks, Veterans, and Moms for cleaning out my closets, but filling up my heart.
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Cathy is the author of Showering with Nana: Confessions of a Serial Caregiver and