Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wisdom to the nth Power

I've flown up to visit my mother, but ostensibly, the real crux of my work has been cleaning up the house such that my mother can come home from hospice.  Real kudos go to my sister, who will be living here and taking care of the mother.  We've both been working on the house.

My mother... well, I can't say she's actually a hoarder.  She doesn't collect Barbie dolls in their original packaging.  She doesn't have a newspaper fetish.  She does have massive amounts of knick knacks, tons of unsorted mail and enough furniture to redecorate the white house.  Okay, that last bit might be an exaggeration, but seriously, there's a lot of stuff here!

I told my sister some time ago that I would sort through papers.  She was all a fan of this because she doesn't mind so much dealing with stuff.  And I may say, we have made a lot of headway.  That is, until yesterday...

Yesterday the medical equipment guy came.  I expected him to move the hospital bed from downstairs, to upstairs, and he did!  He also dropped off: a walker, a wheel chair, a concentrator, a mobile oxygen unit, another mobile oxygen unit, a back up oxygen unit (looks like a huge helium tank), a commode and a trapeze bar apparatus (in case mom wants to practice a new career move in her spare time).

This unleashed a miasma of brain fuzzle for me.  I don't know what it unleashed for my sister, but worry seemed to be present.  Mom was due home at 2 and this was 11.  We couldn't move in the living room, nor could we get from one end of the main floor to the other without a pole vault.  Not a great place for a woman who can't walk without serious assistance and prayer.

Well, we got her time moved back to today.  We busted ass getting everything arranged into a traversable semblance.  And then, it came down to little collections of flotsam mom has dispersed amidst the flood.  This is where it gets ... creepy.

Sorting through tiny container after tiny container, I've come across archaeologically interesting pieces, such as erasers, bandaids cut in half length-wise, an ancient palm pilot, emory boards, eye of needle, tongue of shoe... and a tiny container shaped like a molar.  Gosh, who could resist?  What would be inside a tiny tooth box?

If you guessed teeth, you're quicker than me.  Somehow I really didn't expect to find teeth inside the tooth box.  Not only are they teeth, but one is a gold crown with the tooth still inside.  And the rest, still have bits of ruddy detritus where I can only imagine bits of my mother are left, dehydrated upon them.

This was moderately gross.  I mean, I got nothing against teeth, but it's just before breakfast and I wasn't expecting it.  I moved on, sorting e-cigarette butts and pill cases, with only a slight shudder and loud exclamation.  Until I came to a small manilla envelope marked "kls".  These are my initials.  Gosh, what could be in this tiny, bulging envelope that has to do with me?

If you guessed teeth, you're gross and right.  There, all four of my wisdom teeth, laid out crown through root, for me to view.  What is going on with all these teeth?  Glech!  And *sudder*


  1. Guess what I just found on the side table. Two more teeth... stuck together :(

  2. To make a joke about this just doesn't seem appropriate. I know that my parents kept a number of my baby teeth, as well as the pair of glasses I wore at age 2.

    1. Dear Glitter Grrl, Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. For me, in my family dynamic, the act of doing this sort of end of life care is particularly surreal to me and humor is something my family uses to help relate, to each other and to our surroundings.
      I was actually pretty grossed out but also found it quite funny.

      I can also see your point, that it was sweet of my mother to feel sentimental in that way. And I also feel that keeping my wisdom teeth had a different purpose in her mind as I remember the conversations we had at that time. Keeping her own teeth? Well, I can think of reasons for that too, but I wouldn't presume I have that right.

  3. Baby teeth are sentimental, yes. But grown-up teeth with dried flesh stuck to them? Where do we draw the line? Does one save one's infant son's foreskin? What if someone has to have a finger amputated?