The recent passing of David’s dear mother, Carole, has brought to the surface many fond memories of her. In preparing for her memorial service, David’s brother, Dale, asked me to review the beautiful eulogy he wrote. In addition, David asked me to send some of my favorite stories about his mother to the pastor who will be officiating her service. Finally, I edited, at David’s request, Carole’s obituary before its placement in the media. All of these fond recollections of Carole included a sentence or two about her vast rock collection. From an early age, Carole loved rocks and began collecting them. When her husband, David’s dad, Herman, was the safety director for a large trucking company, the company’s truck drivers brought rocks to Carole from their travels across the U.S.A. Carole displayed her rock collection outside her home, in a lovely and decorative manner. In 2010, when Carole and Herman decided to move from their home to a continuous care retirement community, Carole was upset about having to leave her precious rocks behind. She asked me what to do and I told her I would adopt most of the rocks, to be sure they were properly cared for. Carole was, in a word, delighted! I told David about our new responsibilities and he was, well, not delighted. Nevertheless, we rented a trailer, loaded the rocks into it, drove them from Jacksonville to our home in Lighthouse Point, and placed them around our circle driveway. When Carole and Herman visited us, Carole was thrilled to see her rocks in their new home! When David and I moved to a new home in 2013, I knew I couldn’t abandon Carole’s rocks. As it turned out, our new house had an area in the front yard that contained a large circle of white rocks. I hired a crew to move the white rocks to our old house and move Carole’s rocks from the old house to the new house. David questioned my sanity in “trading rocks,” but fortunately, he knew not to thwart me in my quest to keep my promise to his mother. When Carole and Herman visited our new house, she was, once again, thrilled to see her rocks in their lovely new location. Last week, I was thinking about the rocks and I decided to count them. There are 191 of Carole’s rocks, of all shapes, sizes, and colors, in David’s and my front yard. In addition, there is another of her rocks in a prominent place on our patio and one more on my bedroom dresser, next to a heart brooch, made out of rock, that I gave Carole long ago (and reclaimed when she moved into a nursing home). I am proud to be the custodian of Carole’s rocks. Rock on, Carole!
I will admit that I was not thrilled about loading and unloading a couple hundred rocks, but it was clear that the rocks were meaningful to Mom and Melissa and I had a great place to put them, so off to U-Haul I went. When my parents downsized, or rather, each time they downsized, we helped them pack and move, just as they had always helped us move. The rocks were a bit different. And, moving them twice was the bonus. I will say they look better where they are today than the white rocks they replaced. It was also good to have some paid help move them. Mom’s rocks are of a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are the size of my hand, but most are probably in the 10 to18 inch range. Some are round or egg shaped, others rectangular. Some are smooth, some have jagged edges. They were certainly not a collection of uniform rocks. Mom and Dad collected some of the rocks, and traveled with them from wherever they may have ventured. As Melissa noted, some involved being transported hundreds or thousands of miles by cross country truck drivers. A few times they got delayed, rerouted and/or handed off by drivers, depending on where they were heading. There weren’t too many of these rocks which piggy backed on cross country trips, but those were extra special to mom. I think my favorite is the green one – I don’t know why it is green, but it is a pretty, for a rock. In accepting the responsibility for the rocks, I think we realized that this was a stumbling block (pun intended) for Mom to concede to moving to a retirement community. In her case, it was rocks, but for other people it may be something else. Mom also relocated some plants, roses mainly, of which she was particularly fond, and she relocated some rocks, to the retirement facility herself. Generalizing beyond Mom’s rocks, I’m thinking now that, when it comes to big life changes such as moving one’s parents to an assisted living facility, it is crucial to consider what is important to them – even things that might seem trivial to others, like a rock collection. Mom’s rocks found a great new home.