Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Death and Shame

I got a letter from my Dad yesterday. It was mainly a report of the two relatives who had died recently. I'm related to both only through marriage, and actually had never met one. Dad also mentioned in the letter that he had to clean up the apartment of my "cousin" because all the other family members were too bereaved. Or lazy.

I got a package from my Dad today. Sheets. Just sheets shoved in a box. No letter of explanation. I'm guessing they are my dead cousin's sheets. He was cleaning up her place. Came across some perfectly good sheets. Figured I needed some new sheets.

Now I have my dead uncle's VCR and roasting pan, and my dead cousin's sheets.

Seems that perhaps there should be shame in using the mediocre household items of the dead. I've never been particularly ashamed of things that make others ashamed. I'm not easily embarassed, except by the site of naked Barbie dolls. I talk freely about body parts and eggs. I'm not phased when my international friends ask me to explain "Douche bag." I go to the gym looking like a homeless person. I wear second-hand clothing. I own third-hand furniture. I use my dead uncle's VCR to watch movies.

Instead, I carry around shame about things I did 10 or 20 years ago. I was a stupid kid. I did stupid things. I'm still mortified about them. Like the time I cheated on my English homework in Mrs. Hansen's class. I got caught. It may be why I'm so sensitive about cheating today. I still remember the horrid pink cardigan she was wearing as she was lecturing me. Or the time I screwed up as Stage Manager of the "Bye Bye Birdie" production at my high school. I didn't show up to some important meetings. I'd been given the calendar of meetings, but did a horrible job of keeping track and staying organized. Mr. Putnam was pissed. It bugs me that I have this stupid teenage shame that I can't shake. Seems like a stupid heavy load to carry for so long.


Laura said...

I'm holding on to some stupid shame like that. Man, it's hard to let go.

DC said...

Every now and again I'm walking somewhere or otherwise doing something that lets my mind roam free and I am gripped by some similar thing - though mine are more like times I reacted poorly to people that I should have reacted well to.

shannon said...

I find no shame in using an item of a dead relative. I mean, if it is still in working order (or can be fixed) then why not? The landfills thank you!!

Also, it's tough to allow yourself to let go of that shame spiral from when you were younger. Dog knows I have done my share of it. But then, I decided I was done. What happened long ago shaped me into the woman I love today. Without the dumb "mistakes" I made then, I would not have had the lessons to teach me what I know now.

I'm a believer that there are no mistakes. You have to learn things somehow, right?