Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Big Blue Suitcase.

Lois had mentioned that she wanted her niece, Norma (or the Norse Neema, as I shall always remember her) to have a "blue" suitcase. So just before we left Bend, we went to the storage unit and got it out. Man, it was heavy. Really heavy. We popped it open just enough to see some photographs, then put it into the back of the car and headed down.

So on the first night down here, Norma came up to our room and we spread the contents of the blue suitcase on the bed.

Lois had a very dark time in her early life in San Fran. Everyone in the family knows about it; her son and daughter who had been adopted out back then had tracked her down and had become an unexpected part of the family. We are all kind of aware of the kind of life she lived -- a very art-filled life, I'd even go so far as to say Beatnik. It made the prim and proper and fastidious Lois seem kind of mysterious to me.

I won't go into all the details of what was in the suitcase, because I don't think Norma would want me to, but suffice to say, it was unexpectedly dark stuff. Pretty soon, Linda and Norma were crying, and I was sort of trying to stay out of the way. There were photos and keepsakes from that era, and a journal, and poems, and it was as if Lois had taken all this dark time and put them in an old suitcase, and closed them for good.

And yet, this was also the most emotional and challenging and adventurous and youthful part of her life, and it was as if she was saying, don't forget this part of me.

That old blue suitcase was very heavy.

I had the inspiration to say, "You know, Norma. Lois really honored you to trust you with this. She must have really thought you were the right person to have it."

And that seemed to lighten the load just a little.

As I write this, the suitcase is still here, in the motel room, until it's time for Norma to pick it up.

A big blue suitcase with some very heavy contents.


Jack Goodman said...

Wow...Dunc. That may be one of the most beautiful and tragic things I think I've read in some time. Thanks for sharing. And outstanding look into your family life

jared said...

Dude, I am with Jack. This post was absolutely amazing. It makes me wonder what people will find in "My Big Blue Suitcase" when I am gone.

Thanks Dunc!

Quimby said...

I'm more of a purger. Those darker times in my life, I like to hang onto the lessons learned but the experiences and mistakes and tragedies? Save them? Nah, I tend to live for tomorrow.

I guess people just deal with it differently. Some pack them up in suitcases and some like me pack them up in the trash bin.

Thanks for sharing Dunc.