Elizabeth Peavey grew up in an old, rambling farmhouse in Bath, a place packed with all kinds of family clothes and furniture and pictures and the bric-a-brac we all bring into our lives. Such dwellings do not serve us well as we age, and the time came when Peavey’s mother needed to find a smaller place. She moved into a condo, and it fell to Liz to help her downsize.
Now, here’s the thing when we talk about “downsizing”: that term doesn’t begin to capture the emotions, the deep, conflicted, sometimes anguished emotions that hit us when we have to throw out our beloved stuff. The baby shoes from sixty years ago. The varsity letters we earned in high school. The photo of Uncle Herb doing a belly flop off the dock at the family camp in 1967.
When Peavey’s mother died, Liz had to go through another round of downsizing, one even more emotionally charged than the first. Out of that experience came the one-woman play she wrote and stars in, “My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother,” a new production of which opens at the Public Theatre in Lewiston on Friday. It examines, as Peavey notes, what a daughter owes a mother and what a mother owes a daughter. And it will make you think about the end none of will escape, and the reality that none of us will take any of our cherished possessions with us. As the saying goes: there’s no luggage rack on a hearse.