I finally did it. I threw it away. All of it. I threw away dozens of tubes of my dead mother's lipstick three years after her death.
My mother who counted humor, sarcasm and irony among some of the greatest joys in life would have loved the title of this blog, by the way.
It's funny what we choose to keep that reminds us of someone we love. I packed the lipsticks away neatly in round plastic bins and shoved them in the back of a cabinet underneath my sink. Every once in awhile, I would reach for one, pulling it out, testing the color on my hand. Like a lot of other things in my mother's immaculate life, they were barely used. But still, they were hers, and they reminded me of her.
Chad, the photographer I work with, would always comment when I had on a new lipstick color.
"Dead mothers lipstick?" he dead-panned.
"Yes, don't you think that will be a great name for a band?"
Joking aside, this got me thinking about what things of mine my daughters will find precious someday. Will they roll their eyes when they clean out a drawer and find a box of keepsakes that contains a champagne cork from the day I got engaged; an engraved, tarnished pin from my grandmother; a high school charm bracelet belonging to my mother; a rock shaped like a heart that one of them found on the beach; an "I love you" note in a child's chicken-scratch handwriting on a yellow, dog-earred slip of paper.
Every time I clean out, or organize, I have these thoughts about how someday my stuff will just be stuff. You can't take it with you. But I'm sure my daughters, like me, will find some solace and warmth in keeping things that remind them of their mother. Or, at least I hope so. And they may be things that I least expect them to keep.
"Enough with the lipstick," I hear my mother's voice in my head punctuated by a giggle. "It's time for you to clean out!"
If they're lucky, my daughters will inherit a smidgen of sentimentality for touchstones that remind them of their history, not to mention a plastic bag full of old medals I won running little races over the years.
Maybe they will shove them in a drawer or put them on a high shelf in a closet. But, hopefully, every once in a while, they will take them out, touch them, turn them over in their hands and remember that I will always be with them for the rest of their lives ...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.