Her Secret Cupboard

My mom has a secret cupboard where she stores extra presents that she bought.

I guess it wasn’t actually that secret; my brother and I knew that if we looked in the cupboards in the basement across from the big freezer we would ruin our Christmas/Birthday surprise.

Surprisingly, it was easy for my brother and I to resist the urge to spoil our presents and we mostly left the cupboards alone. That task became more difficult as time went on, though, because my mother had a bit of a present buying addiction and the cupboards had a way of overflowing. She would buy gifts from January until December and usually by around October she’d bought more than enough presents for everyone she knew, so she’d start buying “emergency gifts” or extras for the next year.

It was one of her best and most hoarding-like qualities.

Even though she gave gifts prolifically to those around her and her family, those cupboards in the basement across from the big freezer are still full of “extras”.

This summer I found two Dr. Seuss books there (Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat) that I brought to my new elementary classroom. I knew that she would have wanted to give me a starter care package for my new job and my new kiddos—the cupboards made sure she still could.

And last birthday my dad ciphered through the “extras” and gave me the “Happy Birthday” black socks with cake pieces all over them. This Christmas he found a beautifully hand painted mug still with the tag on the bottom from Ten Thousand Villages, but politely with the price torn off (my mother always taught me it was rude to let someone know how much you’d spent—or saved—on their present).

This was the best gift. This was the gift that read “From: Mom”. This was her still giving and giving even a year and a half after she was gone.

I wonder if some tiny part of her knew…
Knew that she would have to leave early.
Knew that she didn’t want to.
Knew that we would need a cupboard of presents to last us through the years.

I haven’t ravaged through all the extras yet, I still want to be surprised by my mother’s quirky gifts at Christmas and birthdays. But, I have taken a peek and seen baby clothes and house warming wine glasses.

These things won’t make up for the fact that she won’t be there when we move into our first house or if I adopt or have a baby, but a little part of her will be there.

A little part of you will always be here.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart) –-E. E. Cummings


2 thoughts on “Her Secret Cupboard”

  1. Betsy, Your mother had so much life in her, that it is still impossible for me to accept she is gone. I see her in other people, like last summer at a reunion. I had to take a picture of a woman who sounded, laughed, and was full of life, just like your mom. I had to approach her and tell her about your mom. When I was done sharing, she did the one thing Carol was so good at; she said oh, THANK YOU, I need to give you a hug! And she gave me a hug that was just like one your mom would give. I watched her often and felt close to your mom by doing so. I love unexpected gifts like that and when they are from Carol, all the better. In the months before she died, I struggled with what to do for her. Sadly, after she had been gone a few months, I was in the Just For Women store for fittings, and all over were shiny jewelry of the bling sort I know she would have loved. I felt so bad wondering why I didn’t think of bringing her some bling every week. She would have loved it! To make up for not bringing it, I wear sparkly jewelry often just because of her and it makes me feel close to her. Loss is hard for everybody, and as long as I remember that, I seem to handle things better. I have many stories I would love to share about her, and will over time. I would enjoy that very much.

    1. Mara, I would love to hear your stories! Even this one was so precious. It brings a big smile to my face to think of you seeing that vivacious spirit of my mother in someone else, and then them giving you a big Carol hug to top it off–how special!
      My mother was always so encouraged by your own strength and courage through illness. She always loved your fresh perspectives on things and I’m sure she loves knowing you are wearing bling in her honor :)! Thanks so much for sharing; I can’t wait to hear more!

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