May 25th 2014, my life changed from being the child to being the ma·tri·arch. My father passed on to heaven on March 25. Death is not fun. It changes things whether you want them to or not. Grief comes to all. Just when you think you are doing so well, you are reduced to tears without warning.
With the loss of my mom 5 years ago, and the recent loss of my father, my siblings and I spent nearly 4 and a half months getting my dad’s house ready to sell. Even though he was in a nursing home for 15 months, none of us wanted to begin liquidating his possessions. Occasionally my brother would bring him home for an hour or so to sit and look at his gardens. We were all faced with this feeling of respect for our father and wanting him to enjoy whatever he could in his last days.
When he died, the process began. The first day we began taking items out of our mom’s hutch cabinet in the dining room. My oldest sister came after we had already begun and was reduced to tears. After that we tried hard to honor each other as we slowly went cupboard by cupboard, closet by closet and drawer by drawer through the home.
Every thing was scattered for all of us to see and decide on who would take what. At first it was hard to take anything. We were raised right, grabbing and demanding was a NO NO! Our hearts were breaking as memories came forth with each piece. We found ourselves filling our homes with our parents. That is how it felt to me.
After the initial shock, yes, shock. (We knew dad was going to die but it is still a shock when death comes. Suddenly they are gone. You can no longer ask them questions about their lives.) We started going through belongings more quickly. When we finished, we opened the house to the nieces. I watched as they did the same thing. They each had things they loved and certain items brought memories. They were also slow to take things. .. always asking first. It did my heart good.
During this time, life was pretty much on hold until we could get the house finished. In this process our brother who had lived at the house for 25 or more years helping our folks, had to find a place to live. Our father wanted him to have the house, but it was not in his will. Still, we sisters felt that our brother should be able to find a place to live that would be paid for. Our brother saved our dads estate from disappearing with his careful watch on his funds and his spending. He was at the nursing home with our dad three times a day. They were best of friends! Dad would have insisted that our brother was well reimbursed!
On August 11, the house sold. The months of cleaning, sorting and moving and helping our brother ended. We siblings felt like we have begun to live again. When you clear out a 4,000 plus, square foot home, you find yourself coming back to your own home and wanting to clear it out too. It is like you have new eyes. You see all the work your own children will have to go through someday when you are gone. The work does not stop. You begin the process of clearing and cleaning your own home.
And so a new chapter begins. Taking things for granted is out. Noticing everything and being thankful becomes a must. Desiring to speak love into my kids and grandkids lives is becoming more and more important. Even my work has been effected. I want to create with passion and love each image I draw so that that love will be conveyed to anyone who will see it.
My brother and my sisters are closer to me than ever! We each hold our memories of our parents in different ways. We are planning two parties. One will be just the 4 of us, rummaging through our parents letters and photos. The second party will be at my brothers new place. He gave up his whole life to take care of our dad for a number of years. As a musician, he will now enjoy playing his tunes, writing more songs and visiting friends. I told him that Dad would be pulling for him in heaven! Before he even got completely moved to his new place, a job came in. He was able to write some music for a scene in an up and coming movie. Go Bob!!!
I know that in the months to come I will get back into a rhythm, but I don’t want an old tune! I want a New Song! Always a New Song!
So if you have lost a loved one, take heart. You will heal. You will find new insights along the way. It’s healthy to cry! It’s okay to want things to help remember your lost loved one, but memories are the greatest thing to hold on to.
I wish you a wonderful New Chapter!