If you look closely at the picture at left (by Doug Wells of the Des Moines Register), you will see my mother smiling as she passes a tiny blue Barbie trunk to someone on a ladder. One might assume that the only reason she is smiling as she sorts through the rubble is because she knows someone is taking her picture. Well, one might be wrong!
My mom has wanted a new house since 1992, a desire I fought tooth and nail. I like the boulder walls of the basement and the creaky stairs and the cobwebby attic. I fantasized about the house being mine to rennovate someday...maybe as a bed and breakfast. It was a shabby little house with the world's ugliest carpet, and I loved it dearly.
My mother moved into that house as a young girl and lived there until she graduated from high school in 1969. Then when my brother was two (1979), Grandma and Grandpa Staker moved to Arizona, so my parents took over the farm. That's more than 32 years in one house...more than three decades with that terrible carpet.
Mom finds it difficult to let go of hurt feelings, but easy to part with material goods. Dad and I, however, are pack rats. Mom loves the TV show Clean Sweep, where a team makes you empty rooms of your house and sort the contents, keeping at most a third of it. Mom joked about calling them to combat me, Dad, and the myriad ancestors who have tucked their belongings into our house's nooks and crannies.
"Well, Mom, you don't have to call the Clean Sweep team anymore," I exclaimed on the phone yesterday.
She laughed. "Oh, I know. Your father was tryin to haul boxes of magazines from the attic. I said, 'Oh, no. That is ridiculous. Over my dead body."
The storm has given my mother a guilt-free opportunity to start over without the trappings of her past. The insurance money has already come through, and they're meeting with companies to plan for the new house.