Inheritance (Letting Go of Guilt)


We inherited several gallon-sized bags of blueberries when my in-laws sold their house and moved to Florida.  I like to think that they were handpicked by my mother-in-law some time ago, back before the brain tumor and multiple surgeries left her partially paralyzed, before we lost her without really losing her in so many ways.  She was a force to be reckoned with in the blueberry patch bringing them home by the bucket-full and urging them onto her grandchildren who wandered her house like a little Blue Man Group, stained with perpetually blue hands and faces.  

After helping his parents load their truck, John can back home with a few frozen roasts and the blueberries.  That was last March and if those berries were excavated from the depths of my in-laws’ deep-freezer, carbon-dating may be required to get their exact age.  

But here’s the thing – I don’t use a lot of frozen blueberries.  

So a lot of those berries sat in our freezer – like two of the three bags – and then got moved with us when we sold our house and moved this past summer.  And now, here we are, preparing to move again and I’m cleaning out our deep freezer and there isn’t room in our small freezer for everything.  So I was getting ready tonight to make some blueberry muffins because – God forbid I throw out my mother-in-law’s blueberries.  

I was planning to make muffins while my husband worked at a mountain of dishes and small children melted-down all around me; planning to make muffins after waiting for over two hours at the Dr with my daughter and getting pulled over on the way to the pharmacy; planning to make muffins I was pretty sure my kids wouldn’t eat.  


Because I wanted to honor my mother-in-law.  I didn’t want to feel guilty about throwing out all of that hard work and I didn’t want to lose one more connection to the woman she was - I wanted to do the right thing.

Sometime later, after the twins were to bed and the dishes done, after thawing and straining the dark purple juices into the sink, I realized that I don’t really have to make those muffins. 

“It’s ok, Kelly,” I thought, “Let it go.” 

I just don’t have a double-batch of muffins in me tonight, nor do I imagine I’ll have it in me sometime in this next harried month before me move.  And, oh my, I can’t imagine lugging them along with us to the new house like some big blue ball and chain.  So I’m cutting myself loose, cutting free of my own self-induced guilt. 

My mother-in-law’s will, her spirit – neither the essence of who she was or who she is – cannot be found in those old berries, it just can’t.  And my tossing them isn’t any more a betrayal of her than it is a betrayal of people all over the world who’d give their eye-tooth for those berries. 

It’s just a simple act of surrender, another form of letting-go and laying down the ideal self in favor of something more real which looks a lot more like a very tired, worn-out mother of four young children. 

My mother-in-law has four children – grown now – and my husband remembers picking blueberries as a child, bringing them home in buckets and eating more than he picked.  He wants to plant blueberries at the new house, who knows how many, but it’s part of his plan.  I look forward to walking out among them with my kids in tow, picking and eating and maybe even freezing a few and thinking of my mother-in-law from time to time. 

When their hands and faces are stained and their bellies popping, I’ll ask them if they remember how Bunia used to let them eat all the berries they wanted.  I’ll tell them how I dreaded changing their blueberry-filled diapers and how I tried to subtly curb their in-take.  I’ll tell them how much she loved them then and how she loves them now, only differently.   

And it will be enough.    

This post is linked with Playdates With God
Photo source HERE.


  1. I'm you neighbor over at Playdates with God. So glad you freed yourself from the blue ball and chain. As someone a lot like your mother-in-law, I can tell you that we don't want anyone to carry that kind of guilt over who we used to be. Heart Hugs, Shelly <3

  2. I have done this in so many ways, Kelly. I like how you say that it's "a simple act of surrender," this letting go of these impossible self-expectations. Yes, opening the hand. It seems like I'm constantly fighting against this. Good words, my sister. Good words.

  3. It's funny, in a tender kind of way, how 'things' like blueberries can carry so much emotional freight, isn't it? We are a sacramental people, I think. And yet, I toss out the communion bread all the time - give it to the birds and let them have at it. Kinda what the cross is all about, isn't it? Let.It.Go. Thanks for this goodness, Kelli.