Random Lengths News

Her Bedroom

- By Lyn Jensen, Columnist

“You still call it your mother’s bedroom?” my hairdresse­r asked, with a tone of surprise. I do, and her bedroom still has the same basic elements it’s always had. By the time my mother died, the room was chaotic but most of the original furniture was still around, along with many, many personal possession­s of her lifetime, and even a few others’ lifetimes.

Past and present mingle here. In one corner I literally hang my hats — on a hat rack, and in this corner, too, are two wicker hampers and two fold-up chairs with nowhere else to go. In this museum-like house, this room houses a collection of bedroom art, and there’s even a cute black paper cat mobile hanging from the overhead light.

After sending dozens of bags of clothes and personal items to charity or to relatives, much of the freed-up space now holds personal possession­s of my own lifetime, combined with what I keep of my parents’ things. My mother’s collection of jewelry and accessorie­s, along with some pictures, mementos and an unhung mirror, still takes up the top of the eight-drawer double dresser she shared with my father. I use four drawers for accessorie­s, two more for winter sweaters and sweatshirt­s, and the remaining two hold sewing/crafting supplies.

I once started to show the room to a woman who does estate sales, and she went straight to the dresser and started riffling through it, like an unruly child or nosy neighbor. “I’m looking for the maker’s name!” she exclaimed.

I told her she didn’t need to look because I wasn’t selling the dresser because I didn’t have any place else to put what was in the drawers and she could’ve just asked. I didn’t do an estate sale with her.

Besides using the room for storage, I use it for household projects — sorting laundry and photos and papers. My mother’s bed is the same as ever, and I found, stashed in a closet, the blue-and-green abstract-print bedspread she made at her antique sewing machine in the ’60s. I put the spread on the bed, added two reupholste­red backrests, some throws and throw pillows. The cremated remains of three of my mother’s favorite cats still rest in peace atop the mid-century modern headboard, which serves as bookcase and nightstand.

One major difference I’ve made is to squeeze a bookcase in between the bed and a wall, because the family book collection demands all the space it can get. Once I showed the room to a profession­al organizer and she said, “If we could just get this bookcase out of here.” So I do my own organizing.

Another transforma­tion is about to happen, though. Next month I’ll start renting the room to a friend who’s teetering on the brink of homelessne­ss. There’s enough free closet and drawer space she’ll be able to live comfortabl­y, but I predict she’ll bring a new identity to the room, and traces of it being my mother’s old bedroom will grow fainter and slip further into the past.

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