The Wallet

It was more years ago than I can exactly recall when my mother asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told her I wanted a good wallet. I was very specific about what kind of wallet I wanted – that it was a quality wallet made of nicely finished leather, with many compartments in order to hold a checkbook, credit cards and photos, and a place to keep cash in a separate zipped section. Back in the day it was the kind of thing I would not have splurged on for myself. In general, both of my parents had pretty good taste and could be depended on to come through with thoughtful, caring, interesting, quality items when it came to gift-giving, which was especially appreciated during some very lean years in my early adulthood. Given that, I left the request with her.

My mother lived far away in another state. Since I wouldn’t be seeing her on my birthday, she sent her gift. When I opened the present, it turned out it was not the wallet I had envisioned. It had all the right compartments, the slots for credit cards, the zipper, the inserts for photos. But it was not made of leather, it was actually what today would be considered “vegan” material or “pleather”, something that is actually popular and very politically correct now, although back then there was no such thing. Essentially, it was “fake leather”, some kind of a vinyl wallet. It kind of /sort of/not quite looked like real leather, and indeed she actually thought it was leather when she bought it. But it wasn’t. It just wasn’t the wallet I had envisioned for my birthday wallet. It wasn’t The One. So I was somewhat disappointed, while simultaneously feeling somewhat guilty that I was disappointed. Maybe I should have lied and told her it was perfect when she asked me, instead of being truthful and telling her it was not quite “it”, which probably left her feeling disappointed too. I guess it was one of those “fails” all around.

not quite “the one”

The important part about it was that I know my mother picked it out with love. She was trying to get me exactly what she thought I wanted. It was very much the “love” part that I was stuck on. So while I never used the wallet, not even once, I dutifully and lovingly put the wallet away in a drawer and kept it because of it being a caring gift from my mother. Perhaps had it come from somebody else it would not have mattered, but being it was from my mother I just could not get rid of it.

The Wallet is yet another one of those situations in my life that is tied to the painful processes of letting go of some (not all) things. The recurrent theme with me – it is not about the material value of the object so much as the attachment to the person or memory or event tied to the object. Abandonment issues maybe? Each time another one of my mother’s dishes breaks, or one of her towels or blankets wears out, it is as if I am losing one more small piece of her. So it has been with The Wallet, which has been moved from drawer to basket to closet, around and around. I look at it, I sigh, I open it, look at all the useful sections and compartments inside it and think I should use it, but even now it is not a wallet that I would use. I have other wallets (actually gifted to me from other family members) that are much more “me”. I think I should pass this one on to someone, although I do not know anybody who would actually want it. I want it to go to someone who would appreciate the wallet that I could not love.

all the compartments, slots and zippers

As of this writing, my mother has been gone twenty-three years. She gifted The Wallet to me many years before she passed away, so it’s been around here for a long time. For decades that wallet has been in a drawer, with the tags still on it, because I can’t part with this physical symbol. I realize this is crazy. I can practically hear her laughing and saying how totally ridiculous this is.

It’s not like I can’t get rid of anything, it’s only those certain things. This week as I came upon The Wallet once again, I was strongly feeling it was time for it to finally leave my possession. It actually made it out of the bedroom and down to the dining room table on top of a donation pile, where it sat for a few days. I have been donating items pretty regularly in our local Buy Nothing group, although I have taken a hiatus with that because it seems to be the same small group of people taking or asking for stuff over and over again, which appears a bit greedy vs. needy. But it didn’t feel right to just drop it into one of those donation containers on a sidewalk either. It finally came to me that my mother would be pleased if The Wallet was donated to a church thrift shop. The church is not my thing, but it was hers. So today that is what I did.

I walked into a small church thrift shop that did not have too many items in it. It was very simple, uncluttered and not especially high end. There were a few elderly ladies shopping there and one man volunteering at the register. One hundred percent of the proceeds goes to good causes. She would have liked that. I handed over my wallet and a few other items to donate and told the man a little bit about the wallet, not that he cared. I actually had tears in my eyes.

As I drove away, leaves were falling and blowing around the gray November sky. I cried a little bit for my mom. I miss her so much. While not constantly present, the feelings of loss are always just beneath the surface.

There is a whole lot of very old, psychic love tucked into the many compartments of that wallet. I hope somebody buys it for a dollar or two and somehow feels a little bit of it.


This entry was posted in Aging, Autumn, Coping, Flashback, grief, Perspective, Regrets, treasures, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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