What We “Take” After our Parents Die – None of the STUFF Matters

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As a little girl I remember RIBBON CANDY setting on a corner table at Christmas. It was Grandpa’s table; not fancy table; not really great of wood, but I remember viewing it at eye level and admiring the candy. It wasn’t just the candy. It was the people. I remember the kitchen being busy with that ladies cooking and as a little girl getting to help “dry” dishes. I remember all the laughter and conversation. I remember eyeing that ribbon candy and being so excited when Grandpa offered a piece of it to me. It didn’t taste as pretty as it looked….but I loved it! Year after year until my grandfather’s death, there was ribbon candy on that table at Christmas….and it eventually the table wound up in a corner of the dining room of my own parents home. Each time I saw it, I saw the ribbon candy…..in my mind.

I’ve watched many families implode after the death of one or both parents – and not because of how much they miss them or the grief that overtakes them. Kids want the goods and the money, and will often fight each other for it to the point of destructing what’s left of the family unit. (This happens in divorce, too, even though they “think” it’s going to be amiable.)

My parents died 5 days apart from each other 13 years ago just before Thanksgiving – seems like only yesterday. Mom, the well one died of a massive heart attack ending the 6+ years of caring for my dad with Alzheimer’s. He was already fading fast and died 5 days later, shocking us once again within a week!

My sister who had lived with my folks all those years sat my other sister and me down to discuss what we wanted. Honestly, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind – I figured it was all hers. Where most stories turn to the “I WANT THIS” with bitterness and raging, we actually sat down and discussed it. She was to re-decorate to her tastes, and wanted us to “take” the things we might like for ourselves.

I thought about all the furniture, jewelry, and household trinkets, but it was the memories of laughter and fun that really came to my mind, and the memory of that table. I pointed to it, “And if you don’t want that table in the corner – I’d love it….but it’s not something I have to have.”

Without evening knowing the “why” of wanting that table, my sister soon delivered the table. It was then, that I unfolded the story of the ribbon candy to her. I now grace the table with ribbon candy at Christmas. Sometimes no one eats the candy and I have to through it out, but I never discard the memories.

 

The memories are the relationships; somehow memories translate to “things” but we can’t let things override relationships. When marriages fail or when people die, none of the STUFF matters in the same way anymore. It’s the memories….and I’d rather enjoy the old table in the corner of anyone’s house than even my own if I had to exchange bad memories of nasty words and bitterness because I had to fight for it. I’d rather fight for strong healthy relationships; I’d rather have my folks than that table; but I’m grateful for all they gave me in memories over the years, and for the little table that now reminds me of them and Christmases and holidays we all spent together.

I hope we’ll all find one fond memory from this year that we can take with us into the New Year to enjoy in all the years to come!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

Comments

  1. Hi Cindi,

    This is such a great explanation of how we are able to treasure the “things” we have in order to treasure what has true value in life; relationships. I have “lost” both sets of grandparents and my father from the passing of this world, but I am completely OK with that, and have peace about where they are now through my relationship with Jesus Christ. God has given me a peace that certainly transcends my own understanding about this.

    When they passed, I was able to inherit certain items that I knew I wanted, but I certainly did not force anything to go my way. Not that there was a great financial inheritance I could have received, but the certain items I found dear to me, now sit in my home as a pleasant reminder of the gift of their love that they always showed me.

    Memories like the one you shared about the candies and the ones I have of my family, encourage me to look to the future to see what traditions and memories I can give to those I love (and my future family) to recall the many blessings we have in this life. I will look forward to having my children and grandchildren “discuss” over what I leave behind once I leave this world 🙂

    Blessings,

    Kevin P. Kennedy

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