Startled by Neatness

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The glass-door hutch above Mom’s small desk in her living room startled me today. It was all clean and arranged nicely and the clutter was gone.  It just didn’t look right.

It startled me even though I was the one who had cleaned it out a few days ago.  Dad had asked me to months ago and I finally got around to it. For years it had been a messy jumble of Mom’s photos and papers and junk and treasures. I have seen it that way for so many years that I have just become used to it and even though I value neatness it has never really bothered me. It was just the way Mom had always had it.

But Dad is an engineer who likes everything in its place, and now that Mom doesn’t care about her things, he wanted it all put in order. So I went through the shelves and I threw away junk, sorted papers and photos, made a box of give-away items, and set aside a few meaningful things to take home myself.

And then I tried to arrange what was left…the pretty tea set Dad had bought for his mom when he was  stationed in Japan during the Korean War, some family photos, a plate and cup Aunt Harriet had painted, an anniversary plate, a candle holder a grandchild had made, and a few other pretty things. I got it all neat and tidy, and I took the random photos out of the glass pane dividers where Mom liked to stick them, and then I polished up the glass.

I guess it looks better. But somehow it feels wrong. It doesn’t look like Mom’s hutch any more. It feels like I’ve erased something that was hers, while she sat napping on the love seat. A part of me wants to apologize and put it all back.  As if putting all her stuff back the way she had it would somehow bring Mom back the way she was.

And then I would ask her to tell me about the tiny souvenir plates from China Town and Denver. And I’d ask her, “Why do you have this little collection of angels and where did this other tea set come from?  And what about this crystal egg?.”

But then of course, if she could answer those questions I would have much more important things to talk about with her. Oh my sweet mama…why didn’t I realize the treasure you are while you were still completely with us?

I think gratefully of Jesus and heaven, and the total restoration that is coming. And oh how I will hug my dear mama then! And she will know me and she will know my name and she will know she loves me and oh what precious times we’ll have for eternity.

But meanwhile the hutch is shockingly neat. It just doesn’t look right. Maybe I need to stick some photos back in the pane dividers. Maybe that would help…





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