Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Damn the damp

After my mum died, I filled a small suitcase with some special treasures: her passport, glasses, makeup bag, a couple of floaty blouses, some silk scarves ...
Nothing valuable in financial terms but every item selected for its sentimental value.

It may be over 16 years since she died, but in this time when we're building up to First Born's barmitzvah, I miss her more than ever.
I decided to retrieve the case and share the contents and their memories with the grandchildren she never met.

I went to find the suitcase in the cupboard but it seems a certain person who shall remain nameless had seen fit to move it to the garage.

As soon as I saw it and gasped at the side eaten away with damp I knew what I would find inside.
The contents were almost unrecognisable, disintegrating into dust as I tried to prise them apart.

'It's OK,' said wise FB to his howling mother. 'It's what you carry inside of you that matters.'
He's right of course, but it's hard to let go altogether.

I've managed to retrieve a few pieces that aren't visibly damaged, but they smell foul.
These are not the kind of things you can bung in a washing machine.

Anyone have any ideas how I can get rid of the smell?


Sue Guiney said...

This IS hard. The disintegration is there forever though, isn't it....maybe just keeping the suitcase is enough, something to hold the feelings, to keep them safe. You know what they are. xo

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you are de-odorizing, but this link has some varied methods.

All that I can say is that I am so sorry.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely thing to say, especially from someone so young! You must be proud, Debi.

Not based on any scientific principle, but I'd be included to "dry out" in an airing supboard or similar. Smells arrive with time and conditions and can change with similar time spans and different circumstances, I believe.

I have some idea of what you're feeling at the moment, as I'm almost there with clearing my parents' house. Yes, "house". It was once a home, our home, my home with them, but now it is just a house with memories and contents that have been moved, or I am yet to move, and it's all been very sad sorting through it all. But there are moments of joyful memories within that and moments of pure joy on discovery of something from the past.

Quite a few things smell in some way, but I also found an ancient hat box from a voyage that originated in New Zealand and arrived in south Wales that I'd claimed at a school fayre in my teenage years. It smelt then. A lot.

Approx 30 years later, after sitting on top of my mother's wardrobe, sheltered by a carrier bag, in an environment of periodically timed central heating, it smells no more. (It's dried up a bit, mind.) My piece of history has been saved.

But more than that in value are the bits and pieces of my parents' life together before I arrived and after. I've held onto a Valentine card my mother once sent my father and a love letter that my mother had kept - from my father, before they were married. I've also kept a palm-sized diary of my mother's from the year I was born. On my birth date it says "Had a baby girl. 7 1/2lbs. She's lovely."

Memories are both joyful and pain in the current, especially when the passage of time destroys some of the evidence. But the memories are indeed the most important thing to carry with you in life.

Enjoy the memories, Debi. And try to work through the pain of loss of the articles you've teasured in the past. Your memories are the most important and will serve you well.

Anonymous said...

Oops, beep, I meant "inclined" in that second para...


Anonymous said...

hi debi,Damp smell,try..Febreeze..
thats what i have used at times,when i have a wet night on the streets,and my blankets get damp,The next day there is not always the chance of getting replacments,so stash damp ones safe to pick up later in the evening.but first give them a spray this,and at least the evening your not sleeping in whats smells like someones armpit..worked for me, might be okay for you.....x homelesschicken

Unknown said...

The memories that are locked in your heart are the ones that are important. No one can take away those reminders.

Cfs is so right, homes become houses when the people move out and the sight of a Brylcreem container is enough to make me smile.

Debi said...

Thank you, lovely bloggy friends.

Sueg - the case has gone - it was in a very bad way.

Leslie - thanks for the link. Will check.

Cfr - your pain is still so recent and acute. Thanks for sharing your memories. Sending love to you.

HC - oh you are a gem! Because your words made me slap my face and count my blessings.

Minxy - so right, sweetheart. And lovely to see you!

S. Kearney said...

Sorry to hear about this, Debi. I really felt for you when I was reading this. I hope some of these tips work. :-)

Meloney Lemon said...

Bicarbonate of soda.X

Unknown said...

Tough one Debi - FB is right, what you hold in heart is the key. {{Debi}}