Maybe it is because I grew up with parents that lived through the depression. Perhaps it is my generation of “the one with the most toys wins”. Could I be a hoarder? No, not me!!! What is it then? Why is it that when I set out to clear out my house, that it seems to get more full?
I have spent the past year away from home. My father-in-law was dying of cancer. Since my husband and I seemed like the best candidates for the duty, we put out lives on hold and moved into my in-laws 11,000 ft home. It had already been planned that he would stay home until he died, and that as soon as he passed, my mother-in-law would move into a new home. They had lived in that home for 58 years, and raised all five children there. We were married in that home.Their grandchildren, and great grandchildren had many memories at “Mer and Poppa’s”. The home was the place of gathering. Wedding showers, weddings, receptions, baby showers, Christmas’s, Easters, Thanksgivings & birthdays, to name a few of our cherished times together. All those happy times, and now, we were going to say good bye to my father-in-law, and good bye to this home.
During our time there, it was my husbands task to do the physical care of his father. A few times a week, Hospice workers would come in, and they became fast friends. My tasks involved cooking, and shopping. This allowed my Mother-in-law to stay by her husband of 64 years. She read book, after book to him. It was so comforting to hear her through the monitor that we had to keep in their room, so we could run back when the needs arose.
Looking around this large home, I knew that someone was going to have to start figuring out where all the belongings were to go. My Mother-in-laws new home was essentially furnished, and much of what she owned would not match with the new decor. What in the world would happen with the 11,000 sq feet of “stuff”? I asked my MIL if I could start to work on cleaning out. It was very important to her that, appearance wise, nothing looked different for my Father-in-law. she didn’t want it to feel like the vultures had swooped in. She gave me one closet to clean out. Each day I would ask what I could do next. SLOWLY, she gave me more little tasks. My husband tackled the workshop, and the lab. I tackled the guesthouse, and day by day, as my Father-in-laws strength began to fade, I would move closer inside. His world became smaller, limited to bedroom, bathroom and office, and so now I could make more headway. I was not yet at liberty to call in a collector, or remove large pieces, but the cupboards began to empty out.
When my FIL finally died, we began to pack my MIL for her move. It was decided she would move the following week, and the memorial would be held in the family home 2 weeks after that. She asked that the house be empty by that time.
The house was put on the market the day before my FIL died, and the first showing was that same day. The day my MIL moved, we had the Realtor caravan, as well as the movers. Chaos. Even writing about this right now, almost causes a panic attack. Oh, did I mention that my husband and his brother went fishing that day?
That next 2 weeks consisted of collectors, packing, cleaning, house showings, trips to the thrift store, and no sleep. The more I cleared, the more I saw for the first time. How had I never noticed this beautiful chair, or lamp, or painting, or…. I began to get sentimental about things that were not even mine. I loved it all, and I hated it all. This “stuff” was becoming the death of me. I did not sleep for weeks. I wanted everything to be exactly as my MIL wanted it to be for the memorial. I’m not even sure anyone really even noticed. We were there for each other. That day, everyone gathered up the belongings they wanted. In reality, that was the day that I realized that the things that meant the most to everyone were not the priceless antiques, but the memories of the pool parties, the tennis court, the tea house, the gardens. It wasn’t the stuff, it was the times spent together. Even now, as my husband and I look around at the few things we did bring home, they really don’t mean anything. Those things are not Jack, or Marilyn (my in laws). They are not special away from the home that they were purchased for. They are “things”.
So, now to the title of my rambling. What are my favorite things? What are the things that are important?
Love, hope, peace, understanding, faith, family, friends, the greatness of God, Creation, Caring for others, simplicity! These are the things that really bring joy.I need to remember that, and clean my house!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV