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Details Important After Death

All this time, I thought I’d given the funeral home the wrong lipstick color.

I never was much of one to wear makeup, though I’d grown up seeing my mother paste it on before the rare occasions she’d leave the house. So I didn’t pay attention to her lip shade.MomTrainCase1.jpg

Itty bitty nonessential details gain new importance after a death. If you are like me, any morsel of new information is precious. My parents can’t tell me things anymore, but I long to know the things I’ve forgotten and to learn the things I didn’t know.

It’s been 8½ years since I dug in my mother’s train case – boxy luggage that sat on a lady’s lap and contained the makeup she may use on a train. I selected a lipstick. It looked too orange. Too bright. Surely this wasn’t her color.

I was at a loss to do anything else. I handed the tube to the funeral home representative to use on my mother’s lips for her funeral. I also gave the funeral home a ring. Mom kept all her jewelry in the train case. She never was one for jewels. She thought costume jewelry looked just as good.

Mining for Information

To learn more about our folks, we need to be open to new information and new perspectives. And sometimes, we may need to “mine” a little, like a worker underground searching for a vein of gold. We may find something interesting but insignificant, or something so precious we never want to let it go. My “mine” is my parents’ house and their belongings.

I brought Mom’s train case home with me the night she died. I wanted to make sure I had her jewelry. I’ve rifled through it, and taken a pair of earrings from it, but had never cleaned it out until last week. That’s when I discovered several tubes of the orangey red lipstick. And that’s when I realized it was her color. I had given the funeral home the right shade.MomTrainCase2 (2)

It was Jan. 3. I’d reflected all day on what that date meant but in my earnestness that night to clean out the train case, had forgotten the date until I’d finished. If my mother had lived, it would have been her 90th birthday.

“This is a nightmare!”

As we collect information and journey through grief, we may find new perspective in a flash of revelation. I’m reminded of an incident almost a year ago when my husband’s brother announced his engagement. That caused my husband and me to reflect on our own wedding. I recalled how my mother wanted to see some of the DVD of the wedding. She had been unable to attend and wanted to see her brother, my Uncle Dorris, give me away. But I wanted her to see much more.

I didn’t listen to her say that was enough. As I narrated the events unfolding on the DVD, my mother grew flustered. She declared finally, “This is a nightmare!”

My husband and I laugh about it now, but I have always been baffled by her reaction. And a little hurt. But that day after my brother-in-law’s announcement, I remembered when Mom was stressed or emotional, she choked up. Not a good thing for a person with breathing problems. Suddenly, the mystery was solved for me. She’d gotten emotional seeing my wedding. She couldn’t watch anymore. It wasn’t that she didn’t love me. It was that she loved me so much.

What have you discovered about your parent since his or her death? Where do you go to learn new information about them or to gain new perspective?

Copyright © 2018 by Toni Lepeska. All rights reserved.



4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sheryl M. Baker #

    I remember when my 1st husband opened his dad’s chest after he died. There was a jewelry box inside. When he opened it up, he found a necklace and earings. I remember how this caught my husband off guard. When he could finally speak, he said the last time he remembered seeing the jewelry was on his mother in her casket. His mom had died when he was a young boy around 12 years of age. There were other things in his dad’s chest that brought clarity and focus now that his dad had passed. I’m still discovering things about my parents today while they live. It’s such a treaure. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 11, 2018
    • Thanks for sharing, Sheryl. That is a great example of how belongings can bring some insight into people who have passed. I’m so glad you are collecting information from your parents and making observations while they live. That’s the ideal situation.


      January 11, 2018

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