The Remains of the Day


The Remains of the Day

A hearing aid battery, the top from a bottle of eye drops, an eyebrow pencil, and a curler pin.

How do you sum up a life? I think these do a pretty good job!

As the wearisome repair continues in my mom's bedroom and bath, her dresser was moved to paint the walls. A pipe burst in her bathroom in May, and the insurance claim and repair work drag on and on. My mom fell in her bedroom on the bare concrete floor, landing on her cheek and two fingers. This may have contributed to her passing in August...or maybe not. Maybe it was just Her Time.

Being in her house and anticipating selling her house bring new treats and surprises. I was her full-time caregiver for over two years, so I'm pretty familiar with her house. It became my sister and my house on the day she died. I'm a Half House Owner. Do I get the half that contains my bedroom or the half that will eventually contain all the cool repairs we anticipated enjoying? Now new owners will get all the cool new stuff, and maybe they won't like it and will dump it to fit their tastes.

I had no desire to keep my mom's clothes and accouterments which came back to the house after she died in the temporary facility, where we placed her in June. Looking at the clothes reminded me of endless trips to the washing machine to remove blood and urine. There's nothing I want to remember about that. The house now is a staging area of piles; this goes to the thrift store, that goes to the pet rescue center, over there are the eyeglasses to go to the Lions Club, some stuff straight to the garbage, and on. Nothing in particular was especially gripping or memorable so far. I did find a zip-lock bag of corn-on-the-cob holders, that I hid from her in my bedroom when she was still living at home, so she wouldn't swallow them or poke them in an electric socket as her dementia might incline her to do. That little baggie actually brought a smirk.

So far it's been the hearing aid battery, the top from the eye drops, the eyebrow pencil, and the curler pin, hiding for how many years under that dresser and just waiting to see the light of freedom? Tiny items that represented huge concerns for her in her last years.

Yes, her body no longer resides in this house, but her spirit won't give up so easily.


Like this article? Share on social


Sign in to comment


Oh, gosh, this is my mom: eye drops, hearing aid batteries, tweezers and lipstick. It's what she wants and needs in the nursing home.\n\nThank you so much for this post because it reminds me that she now has simple needs which I can meet. \n\nI'm always struck at the similarities of our experiences. And, honestly, those similarities bring me so much comfort.


Jan, as I read this I felt empty. Wondering if that is how you are feeling or if I'm projecting my own emptiness. I remember taking the basket of my MIL dirty clothes and just throwing them away. I didn't want to look at the stains, or even salvage the better items for donating. Thanks, Jan. Thinking of you.


I love those little things I find that remind me of my parents. I agree about the clothes and all that - I have no desire to keep anything except things like family photos. \nWhat a lovely story!