Dad and I spent the afternoon sorting out Mom’s closet. I climbed into a jungle of dresses and blouses and coats and sweaters. We joked some, to fill the silence, about how women had so much stuff. I hung Mom’s sheer scarves over the open window and Dad watched them dance in the breeze to a song in his head.
Every piece had a place in his memory. Like inventory, Dad knew every dress and every moment they’d had. The turquoise number she wore to a wedding, the yellow one from a banquet dinner at in Ocean City Maryland ten years ago. Her favorite church dress, a satin fundraiser getup. Funeral attire, like the one she’d worn yesterday in her coffin. The one she was wearing now, I guess.
It was like we were waiting for Mom to come in and wonder just what in the world we were doing with her stuff. I could almost hear her at the door, smell the faint spritz of flowers she always had on. I couldn’t imagine Dad was really going to give her dresses to the church, even if there was no real reason to keep them. And so the box remained empty, on top of the bed, because neither of us wanted to be the first one to clean Mom out of her own room.
I was fiddling with one of her scarves when Dad told me Mom wore it to hide a small scar on her neck. I didn’t remember a scar. With a grim nod, Dad told me how Mom’s father had burned her with an iron when she was little. Dad said he used to kiss the scar when she’d let him. I looked at the scarf, suddenly heavy on my arm. Dad got to his feet, said he had to check on dinner.