In 2016, within my very small circle of family and friends, we have lost four parents. Interesting to note is that despite all of us being “well-aged” adult children we all still have one parent left. That is rare indeed. And a beautiful blessing.
Though we have shared many things in common through our losses, we each have had our own unique experiences with the death process, the loss of our parent, and in adapting to our new normal without them.
Sorting through stuff is one shared experience…one that has evoked all sorts of reactions and emotions in each one of us.
For me, giving away clothes and my mother’s other stuff wasn’t too bad but in my quest to do so it was very important to find something of hers that would uniquely remind me of her. Something I could have as a constant reminder of what she meant to me.
The picture above shows a small decorative piece I gave her a few years back. It was the ending to every phone conversation with my mother. I would say “I love you, Mom” and she would answer back “I love you more!” I look at it every day and smile.
One of the other adult kids shared that going through her dad’s stuff helped her get to know him more…even in death. Because each item found or piece of paper discovered painted a more complete picture of who he was both to his family and to others.
I’m not a “saver” so my kids will find no great treasures of any value when I’m gone nor will they discover box upon box of unused, forgotten stuff. But I do find myself wondering if the few items I’ve kept from their childhood will bring a smile. The samplings of their old schoolwork, my daughter’s written statement from high school pleading her case for being allowed to go to an overnight at the beach without a parent, my son’s artwork, or their baby books.
To me these are treasures, memories of my very precious children. But what they do with them will be their choice.
And if they choose to look and toss, that’s just fine. It’s only stuff. What’s more important is that we leave behind things of lasting value. Things that age can’t destroy. Love for family and others. And having lived a godly life—one that showed the importance of having a relationship with God.
This is the legacy I hope to leave. And I’m certainly still working on it.
We learn in Matthew 5:16 (NLT) to “let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”