Thursday, June 6, 2013

End of an Era

It had to happen eventually. Today, when it did, I took a moment to reflect on the ending of a legacy, left by my mother, not as the Leaving of a Legacy, but just the logical offshoot of her habits, ingrained in her after surviving the Great Depression as a young woman.

She was thrifty. Actually, you could put it a lot stronger than that, for it was next to a religion with her, but that would make it approaching laughable. Not that we didn't laugh at her -to us, unnecessary - extreme thriftiness. In retrospect, that seems unkind, where what she was doing was taking care of her family the best way she could, protecting them against the possibility of an economically grim future. We grew up much luckier than that.

Part of her thriftiness was hours spent weekly coupon clipping. She'd not only clip for herself, but clip and hand out coupons she thought the rest of us might somehow use. When she found a good sale on things that were staples, she stocked up. We only sort of noticed how much she stocked up on some things until it was time to clear out the house after she died when it was time to move Daddy out as well, bringing him up to live here. Most of that "stuff" came up with him, getting used up as he needed it.

Toilet paper: useful for all of us. Cleaning supplies: ditto. Paper towels: not something I normally use, but we used them with Daddy, and as many packs as there were, we still wound up buying a few more rolls while he lived. I've gone back to not using any.

Today, finally, it was time to replace the last of her stocked up supplies: kleenex.

Mom had partial boxes in every room. There were more in the bathroom linen closet, using up the available space, and once there were too many to go there, overflows went on the steel shelves in the garage. And finally, she kept a stack three high in the living room, on the floor between her chair and Daddy's, high enough that he could reach it, knowing where to find a tissue even when his eyes failed him. Bringing all those boxes here, we slowly worked our way through them, all of us. Yesterday, that last box on top of the toilet tank dispensed its last tissue.

Today I bought kleenex again.

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