I can’t remember if I bought the mandarin oranges before or after my dad died. It was around that time and we needed fruit. Most have been eaten, but a few remain in their mesh bag near the back of the refrigerator.

This is where you might find me disgusting. I find myself a bit disgusting. So, whatever.

They are beginning to shrivel. Not bad, not to the point they could be used as the head of a doll, shrunken down and dried out.


Taken the day my dad was moved to comfort care

I have thought often in the last week about why I can’t yet bring myself to throw them out. My mind wanders to the lovely poem by William Carlos Williams and the plums in the refrigerator. We passed the lovely stage a while ago.

Do you remember the short story we had to read in high school? The one where the lady dies —  was she in her wedding dress? – and years later her body is found, dried and shriveled up in her bed.  I think of that story when I open the refrigerator and watch the mandarin oranges slowly shrinking with the passing of time. Her family members become less creepy by the day. More relatable.

Maybe I’m becoming more creepy. Less relatable.

When I bought the damn things they were mere fruit. When did they become the marker that time is passing? Without my choosing, they have moved to “as long as they remain in there, we’re not that far from when Dad died” land.

It’s funny what we choose to hold or mark our stories. I know time is moving on. The day we moved Dad into hospice there were icicles the size of swords hanging down, and now spring flowers have come and nearly gone. These don’t tug at my heart.

But those mandarin oranges, they get to me. And I close the door and wonder when I’ll be able to throw them out.



Leave A Comment

  1. Emily thomas April 22, 2014 at 7:03 am - Reply

    I love this, Amy. It’s so touching.
    I think you should just keep the oranges in there. When the health department visits you, you’ll know it’s time.

    • Mark Allman April 22, 2014 at 11:55 am - Reply

      I love this comment Emily.

  2. Tanya Marlow April 22, 2014 at 10:14 am - Reply

    I think there is always something too about the frustration and the waste of throwing fruit out. I mean, I know it’s about a lot more than fruit, but even when I have old fruit and I see it begin to turn, I think ‘ I can’t throw it out cos that would be a waste’. Maybe I should eat it. An then I throw it out a week later when it’s green.
    (See – creepy AND relatable).

    Praying that those mandarins will bring some kind of a release for the anger. Grief sucks. Love you lots.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy April 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      YES! I hate wasting food regardless — I was eating slightly turning watermelon this morning (My mom wouldn’t touch it) … so far, so good! No major intestinal repercussions yet :)

  3. Mark Allman April 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Oh Amy,
    I am sure short of Emily’s idea you will know when it is time. I do know there will never be a time that you will get over your dad’s death. I don’t think we ever get over those we love. We may deal with it better but the love we have for them will not allow us to “get over it”. It is a testament to your dad that’s tied up in those oranges.
    Amy, I don’t ever want to get over those I love be they alive or not.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy April 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Mark, thanks, and I agree. I don’t think I’ll ever “get over it,” nor do I want to. I find it interesting what does and doesn’t trigger/remind. Somethings I think will mean SO MUCH … do mean something, but not as much as anticipated. And other things that, on the surface, I have no clear idea why it’s got such a strong hold. We humans are an interesting bunch!

  4. Brenda April 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    No judgment here. I had the same problem many times over after my ex-husband left – I was still finding random items of his (and other clues of time passing) for YEARS. Every time I had to get rid of another thing, it was like a tiny loss (though it got easier). It feels dumb to get emotional over it, but it’s completely valid.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy April 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      Thanks Brenda — and Emily above (comment number one), I want to introduce the two of you! She’s running a series and I hope you’ll be able to write for it/her :)

  5. Laura April 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Amy, thank you for letting us into your journey of grief and being open about the difficulties, including throwing out fruit. Praying for you and your family.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy April 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      Thanks Laura :)

  6. Lisa Z April 22, 2014 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Surely, in the bowels of pinterest there is something both lovely and creative you can do with shriveled, not-quite-shrunken-head oranges thereby commemorating a significant moment in your life and satisfying Brene’s guidepost #6! You’ve done such a lot of tossing already, you can hang on a bit longer. If you start giving them names, I’d say you’ve crossed the line into creeper territory. Love ya!

    • Shelly April 23, 2014 at 2:57 am - Reply

      Lisa, I love this reply–especially connecting it to this week’s book club topic.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy April 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      Now you’ve got me thinking on names :) … except, the naming voices in my head are a little too Gollum-esque :)

  7. Sarah S April 23, 2014 at 6:19 am - Reply

    No words…in a good I understand…not creepy or unrelatable way…because grief takes time and everyone experiences it differently…and shriveled mandarin oranges somehow speak to me.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy April 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sarah … me too :) (the speaking, that is)

  8. Emmeline May 1, 2014 at 7:15 am - Reply

    This is so beautiful. I have often thought about the passing of time as marked by refridgerator items

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