Getting Lighter

Today we move my mom from her retirement apartment to assisted living. I remember just three years ago having the conversation about how much she dreaded this potential move, and, yet, with failing eyesight and a need for more daily help, she proactively requested it. And while tears have been shed, she said she’s there is peace in knowing the time is right.

It makes me wonder – how often do we spend years dreading something, and yet when the time is right for it to happen, we’re somehow ready? How many years do we waste in anticipation of something whose time has not yet come? Or perhaps we just underestimate our ability to handle what life brings our way, or overestimate the negativity of grief rather than value its ability to help us grasp change.

My sister and I have spent weeks helping mom think about what she wants to take with her, and what she wants to release. We have gone through jewelry and pictures and decorations and clothes and hangers and towels and Blistex and hand soap and dishes. Going through it all brought back memories of moving mom from the townhouse she shared with dad, to her two-bedroom apartment, to her Lakewood Retirement Village apartment, and now to assisted living. Each one of those moves required a release of things collected over the years, some tears, and a diorama of decisions.

Mom says this next room will be “her final place before her final resting place.” There’s a heaviness in that, so we’ve watched her carefully as she has put her things in boxes and baggies with the names of those who will receive them. While we were anticipating sadness, Mom said that giving away her things has made her feel lighter. She didn’t need most of it. Of all her valuables, it is the Snoopy and Woodstock gifts from grandkids from which she refuses to part.

Listening to her, I have started to question my own collection of stuff.

Do I really need five pairs of running shoes? Especially since I don’t even run? Do I need more make-up that I will eventually toss because it does NOT make me look like the model wearing it? Is the addition of more needy hand weights that languish and whine unused in the closet required?

Although my husband and I downsized a few years ago, maybe we need to take more of our belongings and share them with people whose burden we can lessen by lessening our own. Sometimes I wonder about consumption and what void it is filling in our souls. I have ordered so many things from Amazon the dog doesn’t even bark at the truck anymore.

Perhaps mom’s moving day will remind all of us that there are glimpses of gold that have nothing to do with the 14k kind. As she handed me jewelry that I’ve always admired, I can only say that most of its sparkle was because it adorned my mother.

Once mom is settled, I’ll let my husband know it’s time to lighten up. He’ll smile and agree and immediately suggest we unload the dog, which is never going to happen.

But the rest? We might just let some of that go.