Monday, September 27, 2010

The Circle of Life

She was born into this world in 1916. She came with only a body and a soul. She was born into a family who had very little, so her possessions as a child were few. But over time, the possessions began to amass:
  • A home filled with furniture
  • Buildings, farm machinery, cars and trucks
  • Trinkets, nice gifts, worthless gifts
  • Pots and pans, utensils, dishes
  • Quilts and blankets, towels, tablecloths
  • Washers, lawn mowers, refrigerators
  • Many more things than any of us would ever be able to recall

A lot is accumulated in over 90 years of living. But eventually, the accumulation of things begins to go backwards. Each stage of life was a down-sizing - from a 400-acre farm, to a house in town, to an apartment, to assisted living, to a nursing home. The process of getting rid of goes much faster than the process of gaining:

  • Sell
  • Throw away
  • Give away
  • Leave behind

Early the morning after mom passed away, I went to her room at the nursing home, sat in her chair, and marveled at how little she had and how little she needed to meet her needs. I fired up my laptop and, along with brother Jim (who also arrived early), listed her final possessions. Here is what she had the last weeks of her life:

  • Furniture - chair, love seat, dresser, TV stand, side tables, doily
  • For snacking - packets of crackers and peanut butter, salt and pepper, packets of sugar, Altoids, coffee cup and candy
  • For self care - hearing aid with extra batteries, chap stick, clear fingernail polish, eye drops, emery board and nail file, mineral ice, neosporin, baby powder, 2 tweezers, a few bandaids, mirror, combs, handkerchiefs, magnifying glass, clothes
  • For entertainment - TV with remote, word search puzzle book, emails received, Yahtzee, Cribbage board, deck of cards, radio, an altoid box with quarters (for bingo)
  • For reflection - Bible, devotional book, Estate Planning Guide, Guidepost magazine, Nicole's essay, the birthday calendar, funeral folders (Zola, Nolan, Charles Hanson, Eva), miscellaneous family pictures, one doll, one stuffed animal, cross stitched wall hanging, picture drawn by Makenna (great granddaughter), award to dad from the Farm Bureau in 1975
  • For getting along - scotch tape, spool of white thread, paper clip, 2 ziplock bags, screwdriver for glasses, knife, John Deere letter opener, scissors, 7 pens, flashlight, address book

Mom managed the process of her possessions. She kept control of what to do with nearly every item until she was left with the list above. It took only an hour or two to distribute the last of her things. She went out of this world like she came in, with only a body and a soul. Twelve hours after she died, the ridding of the remaining possessions was all over. The circle of life was complete.

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