Monday, March 28, 2011

Why losing my mother's photo in a Piggly Wiggly made me richer!

Surrounded by boxes, wide open recycling bins I surrendered yesterday afternoon by sipping some cheap champagne I had found in my speechless fridge. I am moving out of my old wooden apartment to a place to save pas mal d'argent.  I've lived there for the past 4 years and it's been just a lovely place. 

Standing there yesterday I sighed looking at the inevitable. As I looked at Tom who was on autopilot wrapping the electronics.

Recalling many years ago when I moved in with my boyfriend who later on became my husband, I remember a now accurate portrayal, when he said "Parady! How could such a small person accumulate so much paper?". Granted I am far from the hoarder status. I do love my papers. I have collected news articles about finance, fashion, career, economics who back to the 1990s and filed them rereading them occasionally. Once I came very close to laminating them but due to cost there was no way.

I've kept for the past decades all presentations I have attended by others and all the ones I got a chance to present. I  admit I have saved every brochure whose layout was lovely. I saved business cards I loved from people I didn't. I saved, saved and saved.

When you move as much as I have both internationally and domestically (now in the upwards 25+). You learn to keep it simple. I have a fair collection of shoes but the largest part of my belongings and to me the most valuable is the one which weighs the most: my clippings files and folders and my books. I have a hard time getting  read of books I love the hardbound ones which weighs more than the soft covers. But don't worry I collect the paper ones too.

Why do we keep so much? I've been realizing that I kept all these articles because I have always thought they would become life turning, telling myself when I need them I'll have them all at my disposal. I realize this morning as I am unpacking things, that I have kept them for the wrong reasons most of them can go in the trash after I read them today and tomorrow. We keep things and load ourselves with too much because we are afraid to forget. I've been afraid of forgetting.

In 1993 when I came to the US. I had only one envelope with about 23 pictures of my childhood and my French parents. In 1995 I had lost my father and my mother had passed in 1992. Pictures were my only worth. I hadn't been living in the states long enough to have my own book collection.

I was thrown full force in the pool of fears when one day I  lost one picture in Piggly Wiggly in Memphis Tennessee. This picture was in a small wallet which I must have dropped in the produce section. It was my Maman's portrait taken in early 50s a beautiful black and white picture of a woman who could easily have been a movie star among the likes of  Gina Lollobrigida, Simone Signoret and Romy Schneider. I was heartbroken. It was an old picture a beautiful picture of a younger mother that I had never known then. It meant everything to me, at time of my life I was in a country with my pictures and both my parents were gone and I had lost the picture of a memory in a grocery store. Needless to say I cried, I wanted offer a reward but had no money and my English was not good.

Now at 34, I see and vividly recount the chest pain and my sobbing. I was sobbing because I was so afraid to forget my mother. Now I still remember the picture and I am richer for it. It's never about the books, the articles, it's not about collecting, sorting and filing. What's most valuable, what's truly worth something, what makes you richer is not in the collection but it is in the remembering.

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