I recently took a long road trip – alone. Round trip, I drove more than 2,000 miles over four days, and in between I stayed three days at my destination. No, it wasn’t a hunting trip. It wasn’t for recreation at all. I drove to my parents’ home to help them move into an assisted living facility. Some of you have done this, others will in the future. It was quite an emotional experience for me.
My brothers and I worked to sort through decades of documents, treasures and junk. (And sometimes the line between the last two is microscopically thin.) If we had just been packing, in the spirit of “put everything in boxes, it’s all going,” it would have been much easier. But because Mom and Dad were moving into a much smaller space, there was room only to take a small portion of their “stuff.” We made trips to the dump, we carefully packed belongings for the new place, and we asked each other countless times, “What do you think we should do with this?”
Against all packing rules and advice, too many times, we put something back down and said, “We’ll deal with that later.” Which we did. And then again, later.
When the move was over, I spent the night alone in the mostly-empty house (a bed remained in the guest room). What a flood of emotions washed over me through the next 36 hours, as I sorted and packed a few more things to take to my house, then began the long drive back to Colorado.
Several foggy questions floated through my mind on my journey, and I’ll close the blog with them so you can perhaps process them, too, or post your answers in the comment section below.
What will this experience be like for my kids, if they have this opportunity/challenge one day?
How will they feel about the memories they uncover? Will they bring joy or sorrow? Or both?
What do I really need? In other words, if I can jettison a bunch of “stuff” right now, and in the coming months and years, how much easier will it be for my kids to walk through this experience when it’s their turn?
More than all this “stuff” – what do I want my legacy to be? (I now own several of my dad’s prized possessions, as do my brothers. I’ve spoken with my dad about them a couple of times since the move, just one week ago. The conversations seem to be bringing us closer. But what can I do now for my sons, to bring us closer, besides the stuff they will one day inherit?)
As a follower of Jesus, I ask the most important question: What would please and honor Him most, and point my family to Him as they review my life and possessions?
3 thoughts on “Behind the Wheel, Time to Ponder”
After my Dad moved to Michigan so we could care for him, we added new possessions. As the months and years (11) went by we purchased new clothing, a $50 nativity set for Christmas and had his subscriptions to Time and Newsweek (his favorites) transferred here. We also found some friends who dearly loved and accepted him. So after the major move, life goes on and loving wisdom finds ways to help with adjustment to the new environment. So with us, the future is still ours to build a legacy for/with the next generation. Lets let that legacy be touched with loving care and deep respect for those who cared for us in the past.
Good morning Gregg, It is such a Blessing that you are able to do this experience while they are still with us, so that you have the opportunity to build on the relationship. So many of end up with this experience after our loved ones are gone.
Thanks Gregg for stirring up some memories from having done the exact same process just a few years ago for my folks, but for also challenging me with what positive memories i will be leaving for my children to uncover when the time comes, and what legacy I will be leaving for them that will continue to shape who they are.
Thanks too Gregg for the prayers of CCCA as I run this leg of the course marked out for me (Heb. 12:1) and strive to walk my pancreatic cancer journey by faith. God has been good and He is answering our prayers.
I was blessed to meet and then be blessed by your daughter-in-law who took photos of our family as a gift to help us preserve some great 3-generation memories.
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