My parents divorced when I was 15…and 16. It was a bitter fight that lasted 18 months. Dad got the house, the money and the kids. Mom got…the clothes on her back. Mom always said Dad had 2 lawyers, his and hers.

Even if Mom hadn’t already been profoundly affected by spending her formative years in the Great Depression, I think this would have triggered any “collecting” urges she had. Her Mom, my Grandma, died a few months after the divorce and Mom and I drove down to Iowa to pack up what things of value we could find in her house. You know, dish towels, cheap flatware, a carpet sweeper. Things of value to Mom, who had absolutely nothing.

Eventually,with her earnings of $5000  per year (mostly in nickel tips) from a waitressing job, she was able to buy a used trailer. Not exactly the good life she had imagined when she’d left Dad, but there was enough room for me and my No.7 Sis to move in. After we left for college, No.8 Sis and Mom’s No.2 husband moved in. Mom lost her vast estate (the by now paid for trailer) in the second divorce.

Mom started over again, moving from our mid-sized home town to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, where most of the grown kids lived. After living with No.2 Sis for a while, she got a 1 bedroom apartment and a decent job with the library system. By this time it would have been a miracle if she hadn’t started hoarding, I mean collecting.

Mom had always had too much paper, too many books and a jar of pens that didn’t write. Don’t ask. But now she could indulge her love of all things pretty…costume jewelry, dishes, table, bed and bath linens and antiques…especially antiques. She asked me once if I thought the chi could flow through her living room okay. I looked around at the couch, the 4 chairs, the 3 tables, the desk, the 3 armoires, the 2 blanket chests and the jar of pens that didn’t write. I said, “Mom, if the light can’t get through, the chi can’t get through”.

So that’s my Mom’s legacy to me. Mom and I were very close when I was a child and teen (a little TOO close according to my therapist, Dr. Ima Shrink) and I absorbed her lifestyle 100%. Well, 95% at least, but I’m trying to find a better way now. Less materialistic, less stressful, more about experiences and relationships than things. It may seem late in the game, as I’m 55 years old, but it’s been a long uphill battle to get to this point. Just ask Ima.

Stay tuned…