Dirty Little Secrets

Almost everyone has them….things that you shhhhhh and don’t tell anyone about…secrets.

Do you have any?  I do.

Earlier this week my family and I began the monumental task of cleaning out my mom’s belongings.  Although she was sick for many years and in bed for the last two, we never moved her things…everything was left in place, exactly the way she left it. 

If there were secrets lurking in her closet, her dressers, her hiding places…we were about to find them.

IMG_1791 A smile…when I found my grandma’s bling.  Plastic, from Woolworth’s.

If someone looked though everything you owned…every pouch, pocket, bin, bag, drawer, folder, computer file, and box, what would surprise them?  Would anything be shocking? 

Would anything totally rock their world?

I realized a few things while cleaning out my mom’s closet.  First and most important (and as Sydney wisely suggested on her blog), never keep something that you don’t want someone else to find.  One day, everything will be found.

The item that rocked my world the most was a notebook that she kept under her nightstand.  On the first page was a letter from me, to her, written on Mother’s Day in 1998.  On the following pages were entries that she wrote to me…and that I had never seen before.  I took the book home, opened it that same evening, and cried my eyes out as I read her words of praise, disappointment, and self-confession. 


We haven’t found any dirty little secrets yet, and I hope we don’t.  With my mom, the person she portrayed to others was who she really was.  The things she “tucked away,” although maybe she never wanted to share them, are consistent with the women I knew.

Which reminds me…there are few things in my own house that should probably be tossed.  Now…where did I put that….

If you have secrets, is it better to share them, or not?

                      …at least with one person who knows what to burn??

Be sure to check out “the un page,”at the top, where I’ll be posting updates about the 12 ways I’m beating the Feeling of UN this summer.  Up next is #2, a date with Mr. Backbone, which is happening tonight.

Have a GREAT weekend!

20 responses to this post.

  1. I would worry my offspring would wonder at some of my notes and journals but particularly notes that appear like journals that are in fact material for stories..scenarios but I hate not having them around. Still I wonder how those eyes would see things?


    • If you hadn’t written the story yet, maybe the finder of your notes would. Prince, in the movie Purple Rain, found his dad’s sheet music, which inspired him to write a beautiful song. If I found a project that my mom only partly completed, I might try and finish it for her.


  2. Posted by pattisj on May 21, 2011 at 12:32 am

    I don’t think I have anything I wouldn’t want someone else to find, but maybe I should double-check…I keep thinking I really need to clean out and get rid of things so there won’t be so much for my daughter to have to sort through. (But I hope that doesn’t happen for a long, long time).


  3. What a lovely purge, especially the tears. I’m due for a good cry myself.

    My secrets are pretty blue. There are two. And I wouldn’t want to burden another with them. If someone finds them after I’m gone, I’m sure they’ll nod and smile. Maybe even utter an “Aw, yeah…”


    • I can see the look on their faces now, smiling with an AW YEAH.

      by the way…this work at my mom’s house doesn’t count toward your “purge a drawer” suggestion, which I’m saving for a drawer of my own.


  4. Hi Tracy .. my mother cleared most things out before she was ill – so there wasn’t a lot – but as I got the things and brought them here to sort out .. there’ve been a few treasures that I’m pleased I’ve found .. and there’s one box that holds real life on her first husband, who was killed early in the War – I gather it’s extremely sad (from his nephew) .. I shall read after she’s gone. I’m decluttering now ..

    Love the photo and love that hat! .. Cheers Hilary


    • Wow, that box will contain some deep memories for sure. When going through my mother’s things, I would look at something and ask “why in the world did she keep this?” Probably because many of the things she kept had sentimental value, but without knowing the stories attached, it looks like “junk” to me. Glad you know the meaning of the box, and what is likely to be found inside.


  5. I suppose one remedy is to try to live a life where no secrets exist which need to be hidden. Upon finding secrets of the deceased we quickly see to how this may be an embarrassment and should respectfully discard the material before we get the whole goods. Even so I think it should be easier to excuse the bizarre in our close ones as we realize we have some secrets of our own. The Christians that are adventist say to always have your house(soul) clean in case the Lord visits today. The Lord probably won’t be stopping by today for burgers and grilled corn on the cob, but it is a good admonition to live with clean hearts and minds conscious of this way on a daily basis. On the other hand we may find some very delightful things about the person which will make us cherish even more that they were part of our lives.


    • Well said, Carl! After my mom died, people told me some good things about her that I never knew…like how she would “secretly” go back to the hospital after her nursing shift ended if a terminal patient had no family…and just sit with them. Those types of secrets are the best kind.


  6. Oh boy, I couldn’t help but getting a bit teary-eyed while reading about your discovery of your mother’s notebook…

    “I took the book home, opened it that same evening, and cried my eyes out as I read her words of praise, disappointment, and self-confession.”

    Yes, I would have been the same way, Tracy.

    I remember after my father passed away and I went back to our home, where my mother and I went through all my dad’s belongings. We didn’t find any secrets, however just going through his clothing and memorabilia made me very emotional. I still have a few pieces of this clothing that I wear, and can’t help but feel very close to him when I do.

    I do have a box of old journals, in which I documented my feelings for about 3 years. Yet, I don’t think there is anything in them that would be considered a secret, because god knows, I’m the type of person who blurts out ALL my feelings at the drop of a hat – HA! I will some times go back and reread them, to see where I ‘was’ back then compared to now.

    Great post, my friend Love the photo of you. Such a pretty lady you are! Have great weekend!



    • You a blurter outer?!?! I would have never guessed. 🙂

      After reading this comment about your father’s clothes, I decided to use one of my mom’s evening bags on Saturday night. It added a special touch, so THANKS for the inspiration to do so.

      I hope you’re having a GREAT weekend, too!


  7. Posted by Stacey on May 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    This was an interesting post as I have kept a diary for most of my life. However, the burning of most of them already occurred…and I mean that literally! I burned most of my diaries when I was in my mid-20’s because I found that I wrote when I was most angry, sad, or disappointed. The books were a real downer and I wanted to start fresh. I have since kept travel journals but not consistently. The one thing I have been consistent with is a diary/journal for my kids since I became pregnant with my first child over 12 years ago. I have mostly written about their milestones but also things going on in our family and the world. Sometimes I have written about things that make me sad or mad, but I make a concerted effort to write about happy things too. I did this with the intention that someday they would read them and learn more about themselves because as most of us probably realize we forget a lot of the details of our childhood. I wish I had such a thing from my mom because she was so busy working 2 jobs and going to school that she doesn’t remember a lot of my little quirks from childhood and I think it would be interesting especially as I watch my own children go through their own quirks. I wonder how much my children are like me…

    Your question about keeping secrets. I have always admired people who have kept personal things “secret”. I think it takes a lot of will power or at least it would take a lot of will power by me to do so. I claim myself to be an OPEN BOOK. Even some of the worst things I have done, at least one person knows whether they wanted to know or not! Some have not shed a very good light on me but they are what they are and I have moved on to hopefully make better decisions. I sometimes wish that I wasn’t such an open book maybe I would be more mysterious but it is just not who I am. So I admire those people from afar. So I think some things are worth keeping secret but only if that works for you. It would make for an interesting story once I am gone I suppose…maybe I will do something and keep it a secret just to surprise those I leave behind!


    • I’m so impressed that you’re keeping those journels for your kids. They will truly appreciate having them when they’re older. Would love to see their faces when they read them for the first time!


  8. Posted by 1959duke on May 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    This reminds me of a story and my grandpa. He had reached the point to where he could no longer live by himself. So I told the family that on Saturday I was going to his house ( he lived in the country) to pack. Well of course nobody showed up to help me. So I went and got me a 55 gallon drum and started a fire. As I was going through his clothes I found 2 copies of Playboy he had stashed.Those were the only 2 things he told me I could not burn. Of course the next day other members of the family move and started where things were at.


  9. I like “There may be a few surprises that would make for an interesting story once I am gone I suppose maybe I will do something and keep it a secret just to surprise those I leave behind!”- I would worry more about any clutter found !!!shhhh! please don’t tell anybody!! 🙂 Hillary, I love that hat. Very good post.


    • I would be totally funny to plant a surprise for someone to find. If they can see down on us from above, that would be the ultimate candid camera moment.


  10. Posted by suzicate on May 23, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I need to throw out all the morbid poetry I wrote while in a depressed funk,…in fact, I thought I’d thrown it out to only find I had another box of it!!!! Started going through it last week; it might take a while!


    • Keep at least one – some of the best artwork in the world was inspired by angry feelings…some of it is riviting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: