Home > Family, Learning, Love, Personal, Youth > The jumbo-est damn glass of lemonade

The jumbo-est damn glass of lemonade

My mother was a Dumpster diver.

People throw away computers, TVs, stereos, music, movies, instruments, art, furniture, unworn clothing and all manner of valuable things. My mom, understanding their value, collected them and sold them at frequent garage sales. Her finds paid our bills.

My sole remaining garage sale picture, clearly unedited

My brother salutes me in my sole remaining garage sale picture, clearly unedited

It became more difficult for her to get around as her mental illness progressed. She could only move and sell items small enough to carry on her bike. Gone were the big-ticket items that used to draw customers.

One of the last times I saw her before she died of cancer, I climbed out of a rental car and saw her new sale sign pinned to a tree in her front yard:


I immediately hated the word “jumbo.” In the context of her meager sale, it accentuated the stark divide between all the possibility present in the once-was and the grimness of my mom’s new reality. Powerless to ease my mom’s suffering, I latched onto that terrible word and made it my scapegoat. I’ve grimaced every time I heard it since. For years.

This morning I heard it several times consecutively. Agitated, I explained to a work friend why the word so chafes me.

“You could just be glad for a chance to remember your mom,” she suggested.

As I'll forever remember her (wo)manning the sale from our porch

As I’ll forever remember her (wo)manning the sale from our porch

“Huh.” I mused over her words for a moment. “So maybe it would be like how I used to see really old people hobbling around and feel sorry for them. Then it hit me that, whoa, that 97-year-old is out and about on her own two feet, and that’s worth celebrating, not pitying. So then, instead of hating the word ‘jumbo,’ I can think not of how hard things got, but how resourceful she was even when things were hard. I can be proud of her instead of sad and angry about her later life.”

“Something like that,”my friend said warmly.

“Thank you,” I told her as tears welled up in my eyes. “I can feel the difference already.”

Her words have been on my mind since.

Life handed my mom a bunch of lemons near the end. You know what she did with them?

Make the jumbo-est damn glass of lemonade she could.

  1. July 16, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Awesome, awesome post!

  2. July 16, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Beautiful. I’ll toast to your mom with a jumbo glass of lemonade tonight.

  3. July 16, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    I love your mom’s marketing techniques! I’m going to clean out my attic this weekend in hopes of having a yard sale within the next couple of weeks. I’m going to put “Jumbo Yard Sale” on my signs in honor of your mom! 🙂 Have a great evening! 🙂 ❤

  4. JED
    July 16, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Your mom sounds like she remained an amazing person until the end. I think you deserve to remember her as such.

  5. nicciattfield
    July 17, 2014 at 1:30 am

    She sounded very courageous and resourceful, and she used everything she had to make a life for herself. She always sounds so creative, alive and original. Someone to be proud of.

  6. July 17, 2014 at 4:27 am

    I am so glad you start looking at these individual pieces of your mother and find love and loving memories.

  7. July 17, 2014 at 8:21 am

    I love the message here, what a great way to turn a negative into a positive!

  8. July 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    There is nothing better (ok, well, there ARE better things, but…) than being shown a different path and then actually choosing to take it. I think as we get older, if we are smart, we learn to listen and be open to changing our perspective, especially when it goes from negative to positive. I have many feelings similar to the one you wrote about here, and I’m grateful that I’ve sort of trained myself to catch them and seek a new outlook, well, when I’m in the mood. 😉 This was terrific, and thanks for sharing, Deb! Love ya! XOXO-Kasey

  9. July 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    It’s amazing to me that it’s possible to find the positives in situations like this. It’s all a matter of how you choose to look at it and hold it in your mind … something I’m only just beginning to grasp. I’m glad your friend gave you the opportunity to see things in a better light.

  10. July 19, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Sometimes a word can trigger a memory just like a smell from your past. I think that it can be good or it can be bad we have to choose and you always seem to do the right thing. I love your posts.

  11. July 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Beautiful, Deborah. What a good friend to have in your life.

  1. October 24, 2014 at 8:29 am
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