Raymond’s Things

I’ve spent the last few weeks looking through and getting rid of Raymond’s things.  In this process, I’ve been thinking a lot about death.  Ray and I talked about death often and he spoke of when his parents died, how sad it was going through their treasures and trying to decide what to do with everything.  He often said how, after you die, you will be forgotten in one or two generations.  It realized that his reflections were probably true.  Life is funny like that, it goes on.

I’ve never been this “close” to death. I am blessed to have both of my parents alive and healthy.  My grandparents all died, but I was not the one going through their things.   So, faced with the huge responsibility of deciding what to keep and what to donate to charity, I began the daunting task of going through Raymond’s things.  Raymond’s life.

When we moved in together, it wasn’t easy for Ray to give up the second bedroom for me.  That bedroom was designed for his great nephews to come and spend the night.  He had been living there for 2 years and they never did come in for a sleepover.  It had bunk beds and a shelf that was filled with mementos from his childhood.  I made it into a meditation/beading room/kitty litter closet.  So I took many of his things, combined with a couple of mine, and made the two of us a “child’s alter”  On that alter I have his old fashioned money changer from his paper route, his baby shoes, a couple of old skate keys, yo-yos, an old toy car, and an autograph book from 8th grade, in which every entry say’s “watch out for the girls,” he must have been quite the lady’s man even back then.  That alter will remain right where it is and I will cherish his childhood memories.

It was only one year ago in June that I moved in this cozy little trailer.  Ray wasn’t crazy about the art work in my home.  I had Buddha pictures, eastern sculptures and vintage Hawaiian artwork.  We rented a storage unit and I put my art in it along with my dishes, and boxes of other things, with the thought that if we bought a second home in Florida I could decorate it with my things.

While looking around here, everything reminded me of Raymond. His western art, his dishes, his old boxes of photos.  Everywhere I turned, I saw “our house” and there is no “our” anymore. I decided to go through his things with the goal of bringing some of my things here.  I needed to shift the energy and make it more “my” place.  Not an easy task.  The question came to mind “Am I throwing Raymond away?”  It was a tearful process.

The one thing I was specifically looking for was Raymond’s discharge papers from the army so I could get him a free headstone from the VA.  I finally found them while looking through a box of his income tax returns.  He had them dating back to 1988.  Who saves 30 years worth of income tax returns?  He was a saver, I pitched them.

One thing I loved about Raymond is how sentimental he was.  His cousin tells the story of Ray golfing in shoes that were two sizes too small for him, the reason being; they were his father’s golf shoes.  He honored the life of his father, by wearing those golf shoes.

In going through his paperwork, I came upon a bronze colored, old metal box.  Inside  were the remnants Raymond’s childhood.  He saved every birthday card, from birth announcements to his 11th birthday.  He had every report card promoting him to the next grade level and letters from his parents and his sister written to him while he was in the army.  These were his treasures.

He saved every wood shop project he’d ever made.  A little wooden sail boat and a little tray with an inlayed design in the center.  Yes, Raymond was sentimental, saving special memories of his youth, his treasured childhood, which he talked about often. He had a huge box of framed, family pictures, all strangers to me; memories to his family.   Although I love all of these treasures, I am unable to hang on to them.  A trailer has only so much cupboard space.  I put together some boxes to go to his family.

When Raymond first found out he had cancer, we had many conversations about “what if I die?”  He told me what to do with some of his valuables.  He wanted his cousins to have them and I decided to give them his cowboy hats and boots as well.  They were thrilled.

It gave me a sense of peace giving his precious treasures to people who wanted them, would use them, and always remember Raymond when they did.  The process of going through Raymond’s things took me three weeks and four boxes of Kleenex as well as a few paralyzing days.  Is this what it all comes down to?  Raymond’s things, his treasures, his life, separated into three piles; save, give to family and give to good will?

As I look around my trailer, the “western art” is gone and my eastern art has taken it’s place, yet I see Raymond everywhere.  He gutted this trailer when he moved in and put in the floors, walls, the fireplace, carpeting and painted it tastefully in egg shell.  I have pictures of the two of us all over.  I didn’t change the bedroom, bathroom or my meditation room, but I made the living room and kitchen mine.  I hope to think that Raymond is looking down and liking the changes I’ve made.  He wanted me to have this trailer and although it isn’t “ours” anymore, I’d like to think he’d be happy with the choices I made.

I realized that I am not throwing Raymond away, I have spread him out and shared him with his family and unknown people who will get some of his treasures from the good will.

Life goes on and Raymond’s memory lives on in my heart, spirit and the few things I saved of his that I will keep until the day I die, when someone sorts my treasures into three piles.

About 1lisaa

I've been on a spiritual quest my whole adult life. As a 59 year old retired school teacher and a long time observer of people, life, nature and miracles, I have decided to start a blog. As I began my blog I was a caregiver for my soul mate Raymond who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2011 and it has been quite a journey. Now, I continue this blog with memoirs, insights, and stories about this journey, called life. In this blog, I hope to find clarity and share spiritual lessons along the way. All comments and insights would be appreciated.
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5 Responses to Raymond’s Things

  1. judy gardner lanphier says:

    you are such a beautiful writer. i iimagine you sitting on the floor going through every little thing. daunting indeed and tremendously emotionally charged. you did it and i love how you say you didnt throw raymond away, you shared him . what a guy to save all this wonderfully semtimental stuff. you are a dear.

  2. Sandy says:

    Dear Lisa,
    I wish I coul expree how much you sharing all of this has touched me. And made me want to prepare for the inevitable. Thank you for your bravery & openness. There is no doubt in my mind that Raymond would be happy & fine with the changes you have made. You truly are a remarkable woman! I will continue to keep you in my prayers as you enter this new chapter in your life. Take care & again – thank you!

    • 1lisaa says:

      Sandy, Thank you so much for keeping in touch. It has been a difficult process, but I think I am heading in the right direction. You know we bought a new camper for the truck, which I now have up for sale. I just can’t see myself traveling without my traveling buddy, Raymond. Life has been so quiet here without him. Even when he was sick, we had lots of conversations… now, silence (except for the occasional meow from my kitty boy). I have sad days, but things are getting easier. I’m blessed with a wonderful family and many good friends who have been coming to visit and keep me company. Take care and thanks again for keeping in touch, you are a dear! Love, Lisa

  3. juliette says:

    Once again, another beautiful writing. You have a gift of using words to pierce the illusion and go straight to the heart. I love you so, brave, courageous woamn friend.

  4. Rose Hollandsworth says:

    I think you are doing extremely well considering what you have been through and I’m sure Raymond would be very proud of you. You are one magnificant women. I’m sure that Raymond would be very happy with the changes you have made as he would want you to go on with your life. I commend you for all you have done since his passing. From one who has experience the same thing you are going through, I also am very proud of you even though I have not seen you since you were just a little baby. God Bless You. Rose Hollandsworth

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