This week has been an interesting week in our household. We have had the job of packing up Rob’s mum’s house and all her belongings as she has moved into a Nursing Home. The week has caused me to experience a myriad of things and emotions and has made me thing about what is truly important in life.
At 93 years of age, moving from a place that you’ve known as home for many years can be overwhelming. Initially, we thought How on earth are we going to sift through all of her belongings and help her pull together what she needed for the next season of life? The next season being one that will be lived in a much smaller space. The Nursing Home she has moved into is beautiful, it is uncomplicated and has a beautiful atmosphere, she has a lovely single room with a garden and a courtyard as her viewpoint. The room is beautifully appointed and will serve her well. Yet the idea of fitting a life time into this one room is impossible. Thankfully, Alma (her name) surprised us, she very quickly showed us what was really important to her and was more than happy to leave the rest behind.
Clearly, this was a huge relief to Rob and the rest of us who were ‘on crew’ to make the move. It was so nice to see her pick a few special photos and some of her most loved clothes. In her younger years, she was in the fashion industry and it was amazing to see that even at 93 this love of fashion was still with her. It delighted us to see the beautiful pieces of clothing that she decided to take – a few too many, perhaps but that’s okay because that’s who she is. We could tell that she really understood the transition of life she was in, in some ways I think she has resolved within herself that this was happening and that not all could come. She knew that what was important was her being in a safe, secure place where she could be spoiled and cared for. This understanding and I can only presume desire trumped her need for possessions and even the past to follow her.
93 years of life lived – 93 amazing years of memories, boxes, treasures, furniture, plus, plus, plus and she so easily gave it all up. I found myself in awe of her decision and her ability to just ‘up and go’ because she had always said how she wanted to live our her life in her own home until the end. What changed? How had she given things up and her desire so quickly? How did everything, seemingly so quickly, become almost meaningless to her? I think it is the power of perspective and how she made the decision and once that perspective and decision were made in her heart and mind, there was no turning back. She was off and embracing the change and the new season.
As you can well imagine, the packing up and cleaning up of her house has been a huge job. ‘Team Bateman’ rallied and we all got stuck into it and all of us dealt with it in our own way. Some got emotional and some just had a great time remembering good times. There was a lot of laughter, especially when our eldest, Ben, found a full set of false teeth and posted it on Instagram for all to enjoy. While cleaning and sorting, the conversation was rich with memories that we will all cherish. Whether it be different items of jewelery, furniture or ornaments there were memories and meaning in so much. Everyone had their favorite and everyone chose something to keep and pass onto their children.
Of course there were things that Alma, or Marny as the kids referred to her just loved and saved, some things being of no value (to us anyway) but they served as great reminders of time spent together as family. The rusty old swing seat out on the back porch brought back many great memories, especially as Anna’s Lucius sat on it and was enjoying it just like his mum and her brothers did when they were his age. It was just amazing to think those years have gone so fast.
I’m sharing this with you to remind myself and others that the most important things in life are the people we share it with. When all was said and done, when the laughter stopped and the rooms were swept, it was the photos of the people Alma loves that were the things she really wanted with her. Yes, there were a few knick knacks that made the trip but mostly she wanted to be surrounded by the pictures of those she loves and those she has loved.
I encourage you (and myself) today to make sure we always value the ones close to us as we walk through this journey of life together. In the end, its those relationships that really matter. Let’s not let the busy of life get in the way and stop us creating those special memories that will never die but will live forever in people’s hearts.
Let’s be sure of what our true priorities in life are because , just like Alma , what we think is so important to us now, in the long run may not be.
Today I find myself thinking about legacy and what legacy I want to leave behind. Is it a legacy of things or a strong foundation for the ones I love? I want to spend time with my family creating memories – most will be good but yes, there will be a few that are harder on the heart. It’s our memories that out live our houses and our possessions. We are so blessed to have the memories with Alma and as we closed the door on the house for one final time we were all flooded with the joy of a life that has been well lived. Now we look forward to a less complicated few years with her while she enjoys her time in a quiet, peaceful setting with care provided where grandchildren and great grandchildren can come and visit and enjoy long conversations with her.
Hang on to the ones you love and let go of anything that comes between us and the ones we love because these relationships are the most precious and important things in the world to us.