Things we leave behind…



As I stuck my hand into the half-empty box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I thought back to their visit which ended all too soon.  Back and forth texts with my daughter prior to their arrival gave me ideas on favorite food items for my two Grandsons.  This crunchy cereal was one and a nice departure from the Cheerios that always take up space in our pantry.  I made a mental note to myself to keep a box of this sugary sweetness on my grocery list from now on.  It was also a pleasant flashback; I visualized my Jake and Jaden sitting at our breakfast table, waiting for my morning hugs and kisses.

Visits with my Florida family inevitably bring about those necessary conversations that most of us have with our children, especially as we see our years slowly winding down.  Yes, I know, that’s what Wills are for but all of that legalese is nothing more than a road map which directs our loved ones over the things we leave behind; a cold, emotionless group of 8 1/2 by 14 inch pages which are an accounting of someone’s life.  Yet, without this paperwork, those conversations or scribbled notes tucked in a drawer which involve promises of just who will get this or that, often end up resulting in heated disputes.  The result?  Family members end up retreating behind a permanent wall of separation which was never the intent of the departed loved one.  Been there, done that with my late in-laws, do not want to repeat it!

Jen and I talked endlessly about stuff, my stuff.  I was adamant on how each of my children must share equally in the collections, memorabilia, jewelry, all precious to me and things I want my family to treasure and pass down for generations that will follow.   Boxes in the attic that will be opened each holiday season and have my family remember a story behind each Christmas ornament.  Cookware that my Grandchildren will use and remember when Gramma had their favorite meal simmering slowly on the stove. We walked through my home where I pointed out various items and shared the story behind each one.  Timeless pieces of jewelry that my two daughters will wear and lovingly pass down to their children.  Neatly labeled photographs that chronicle our beginnings as a family and others that survived being discarded during my late mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s.  And, of course, we had that conversation.  The uncomfortable one about what to do with me when I stop being…me.  Simple.  My philosophy is to leave the land to the living.  Just put me into something vintage and decorative.  Don’t scatter me over any body of water.  I can’t swim.

In my heart I know how overwhelmed my kids will be at some point in the future as they wade through years of memories and I so want each of them to hold on to all that was important to me and have it remain part of their lives, of their traditions.  Of course, my wishes, and my husband’s, will be outlined over an almost cryptic series of pages but I want my children to remember our present day special talks that will help them read between some specialized legal language.

Mostly, I want those I’ve loved so dearly to always remember that, while there might be far better things than any we leave behind, every memory that is packed away in some box, resting on a shelf or in a cabinet, belongs to them.  And, a note I’ve left tucked between the pages of a book, well, that will be a reminder to enjoy all the stuff that made me their Mom!





  1. maria gsell says:

    As I begin the process of downsizing and going through “stuff” I realize how insignificant most of my possessions are. There are those items you mentioned, but a lot of it really holds few memories. It makes packing it for a trip to goodwill easier. I’m giving the important things to my kids now.
    I enjoy your blogs tremendously.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, thank you, Maria! I so understand all that, at some point, others will deem insignificant. It’s difficult to have those close to you look at something and see a special memory locked deep inside that item. When I go to an estate sale or make an occasional trip to Goodwill, it saddens me to see so much that was probably important to someone once.

      I agree with sharing things while you can still sit back and watch family enjoy them!

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