A recent Sunday, on the hottest day of July, my brother, sister, and I packed up our mother and her things and moved her from Portland, Oregon, the city she has lived in nearly her entire adult life-the city where we all grew up, to the city of Eugene (where my sister and brother now live).
In the week prior I sifted and sorted through what remained of her lifetime of things. What to take, what to recycle, what to donate. There were surprises, like the paid-off mortgage for our family home, bought nearly 50 years ago for less than the current price of an average car; sold long before the neighborhood, like many others, became the exclusive enclave of the wealthy.
I recycled Mom’s Portland phone book, a nearly useless and thin shadow of the giant volume I remembered. Back in the day, the Portland phone book was so large it came in two volumes, each thicker than a fist. Our toddlerhood was measured by whether we needed just the white pages, or the yellow pages too, to boost us to proper height at the dinner table. And it wasn’t that long ago there was no need to dial an area code. Oregonians were fewer then and all shared the same one. All my growing up, there were three listings for Josts. My grandmother, my Uncle’s family, and us. Cell phones have made landlines and phone books obsolete, so who knows how many Portland Josts there are now…but as of today, none are of our family tree.
We packed up teacups, and books. We packed the cake decorating set Mom used to frost three childhoods of birthday cakes. We packed the refrigerator art of five grandchildren nearly grown themselves. And we packed boxes and boxes of family photos, snapshots of our youth, youths woven into the fabric of this city we also leave behind.
City of Portland Photo Credit: By © Steven Pavlov / http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Senapa, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45636117