6 04 2006


What is grieving?  I looked it up online and none of the definitions fit what I’m feeling.  Grief:  “Deep mental anguish, as that arising from bereavement; To mourn or sorrow.”  So, I looked up mourn: “To feel or express grief or sorrow.”  So, that led me to look up sorrow (since it was named in the two previous definitions): “Mental suffering or pain caused by injury, loss, or despair.”  But this isn’t what I’m feeling.  So, instead, I looked up nostalgia and that fits closer to what I am feeling:  “A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.”

That’s what I’m experiencing, “a bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.”

I just put some things in the washing machine.  I looked up on the shelf and there were two unused wall clocks sitting up there.  One is an cheapo clock that was in one of the houses I’ve rented in the past few years.  The other was a clock my Mom gave me way back in the 80s – I’m trying to remember when, but I think it was at least 1983.  That means that clock is at least 23 years old.

It is not an expensive clock, but it was one of the classiest things I owned for quite some time.  When I first got divorced, all I left with was my pickup, an old stereo system, and my clothes.  I bought a cheap waterbed from my brother’s friend and then I went down to the Fred Meyer store and bought some trinkets to hang on the wall and some candles.  After about three months of living in a rented room, I found a cheap apartment in Raleigh Hills – the Scholls Apartments.

I had no furniture, so I trolled the Goodwill store and bought an old chair.  It was my first experience with cockroaches.  Yikes!  Soon, I acquired a table and some chairs, a few plants, and some other stuff.  I was given an old coach – then I was set.  After a year in that apartment, I moved in with a friend in SE Portland.  It was an old house – about 80 years old then and I began to decorate with a flair.  

My great aunt Glenna sold me her old oriental rug for a mere $25, I bought some framed artwork, and some more plants.  That’s when my Mom gave me the wall clock.  

Seeing that clock brought back a flood of memories and now I sit here and write.

Some would say that nostalgia is a bad thing.  It forces us to focus on the past and prevents us from moving forward.  In fact, this sentimental attitude can turn me into a packrat.  Just ask me if I want to throw out that clock now?

So, I look at that clock and I remember a Mom who loved me and cared for me.  She didn’t just give me stuff, she was honestly generous with her love, care, and thoughts – I was a high priority in her life.

The clock is cheap – she probably got it on sale for under $15 bucks.  But, when she saw it, she thought of me and bought it.  She knew I’d like it – and indeed, I did.  I have moved it from house to house for over 23 years.  In fact, that is about 14 different houses.

So, I wouldn’t describe it as grief – just nostalgia.  Nostalgia can be dangerous – it can lead to too much looking backward, and not enough moving forward – but  little nostalgia now and then isn’t all bad.

Tonight, as I’ve reflected on this silly clock (which by the way isn’t very reliable), I’ve gone all the way back to our family living on Taylor Street, the friends we had there, moving to Division Street and my first paper route, and our former life in Portland.  I’ve reflected on my job with the fire district, my friends there, and some girls I used to date.  I remembered my time in Michigan in the mid-80s, my apartment in Progress, and even house-sitting for the Roys.  A lot of thoughts have crossed my remembrance tonight – all because of that silly clock.

In some ways, it was as if my Mom came for a visit and we reminisced about “the good ol’ days.”  It was a good visit.  Thanks Mom for stopping by.




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