Okay, okay, I am using cliches and that is breaking a rule of writing, right? Well, bear with me for a few minutes. Every once in a while you come across someone discussing what they believe is the meaning of life. They will share what they hold most dear. In this post I am taking my turn and giving it a twist. During the last two and a half months, my top 3 parts of the meaning of life have come together hard! Through the passing of my mom, I see now more clearly than ever what gives my life meaning. I am going to share a small taste of the practical and real examples of why my top 3 are what make up the meaning of life to me.
I have 3 parts of life that without them, life would not be worth it, let alone complete. Simple, they are:
Sure, there are many other parts of life that make it better, but these three are it! What do these three have in common? Time. And this is not time is money, but time is priceless. Time is the one commodity we all have an equal amount of. True, we all have different ways we must use our time. We all have basic needs that must be met, and we have a wide range of time that we must spend to attain these basics. I get that. But at the end of the day, these are my big 3.
As you may know, my mom passed away on December 26, 2019, just a little over 2 months ago. In the first week we attended to all of the immediate things that needed to be done. The day she passed we went to the funeral home and made the “arrangements.” Then we had all of the phone calls to make. In between the “arrangements” being made and the funeral home viewing, we had to go to the florist, meet with the priest, write the program for the funeral, divide up the parts of the service for the kids and grand kids to participate as they wanted to, arrange the lunch, and choose her clothes for the viewing, and more.
The funeral home day was a viewing for 4 hours where we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for my mom and for each of us. It was a very busy 4 hours. Mom would have been so pleased to know she was so well thought of and that her children have such great friends who made time in their holiday schedules to come and share stories, laughter, hugs, and tears, with her family.
Her priest led a beautiful wake service at the funeral home. She had known Father George, well technically Monsignor Moeller, but to all of us as Father George, for many, many years. His words were personal, comforting, and as uplifting as possible. Mom was a woman of faith. She knew she when she passed she would be with Jesus. She did not have fear of an unknown. He brought all of this together. Yes, with all of the trimmings, time was money, but really time that day, time was priceless.
An Unexpected New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is not the day you would plan for a funeral, but that was just how it worked out. As it turned out, it was the most fitting of days for my mom. Dad proposed at midnight on New Year’s Eve of 1948 into 1949. 71 years later the pall bearers, each a beloved family member, placed her casket in the mausoleum next to Dad. We had not expected to see Dad’s casket, but there is was. That was startling to us. It hit a lot of us pretty hard.
We took, and do take a lot of comfort, that Mom and Dad we reunited for eternity on their special day. Of course, that had happened the day she passed, but to see them next to one another again, at least their physical presence, was really comforting. It was fitting.
Dad died the day after Easter. Mom died the day after Christmas. Yes, every year we have and will have these beautiful days in the Christian calendar linked with the passings of my parents.
For December 31st in Baltimore, Maryland, it was a lovely day weather wise. It was sunny and in the high 40’s. After a lovely service we went to the CCRC where my mom and dad moved in 2005. Lunch was nice. We had the chance to visit with family and friends. Again, mom would have been pleased. We were spending time with family, deepening relationships, making the most of this difficult time. Time wasn’t money that day. Time that day was priceless.
New Year, New Responsibilities
Starting the Monday after New Year’s, the job of cleaning out Mom’s home of nearly 15 years had to be done. And, oh my, what a job! Now, don’t get me wrong, everything always looked very nice there, except maybe the desk. When we started the task of cleaning, oh my, oh my, oh my!!! Every drawer, cabinet, closet, etc., was filled, full, stuffed. In Mom’s defense, she did spend her last 7 1/2 years in a wheelchair and cognitively she began to decline about a year after Dad passed. So, I need to give her a pass. (And I have already promised my kids for a less arduous task when my time comes.)
But time, while it was money (we were still paying the monthly fee for her apartment), it was also priceless. Nearly daily, with my amazing sister, I was at mom’s. We spent a lot of time there and on the road to and from. We reminisced and talked. And we laughed. And we worked. But again, the time together was priceless.
More family, more priceless time….
We also had days when there were more of the family there to choose what items they wanted to keep for their own. My brother and his children and grandchildren, my sister’s children, my children, we all came together throughout the last two months. Our goal, collectively, I am certain, was to honor Mom and Dad. I hope we did a great job of that.
We came together and we worked and laughed and hugged and worked. There may have been a tear or two or more. My sister and I had spent a lot of time there. When others came for the first time, we could see in their faces how hard it was to be there for the first time with out Mom. We didn’t see this when the first niece came, but after that we understood. We spent more time. This time was priceless.
The Cleaning Out Made It Real
The last couple of weeks were a whirlwind in some ways. We had to organize the schedule of people who were coming to play their part in the process. Well, the family had come to choose what they wanted and took those cherished items away. My daughter who is being married in October of 2021, has a new (1949) dining room and bedroom set waiting for her in our basement. I now have a corner cabinet in my office now that I have always loved.
But, not every piece of furniture or item of value was chosen by family. The wonderful woman who was a caregiver for my parents for years was able to use some of the furniture and we are so thankful. But beyond that, there was still a lot of stuff.
Fortunately, the CCRC where Mom and Dad lived has a program where they will take several different items from clothes to furniture. They sell this items at a huge discount, and the proceeds are available to the employees at the CCRC when a crisis arises. They took a ton of stuff. We are thankful and we know Mom would have been pleased.
After them, there was the Salvation Army and College Hunks Hauling Junk. And we were tired. My fitbit probably thought is was stolen and being worn by someone much more active than its original owner. By the way, that original owner is still tired a week later.
Keeping in the theme of religious dates bookmarking these family events, but totally by accident, we completed the clean-out of the apartment on February 26th, two months to the day from Mom’s passing, but also Ash Wednesday. So, again, Dad passed the day after Easter, Mom the day after Christmas, and we closed up at their last home together on Ash Wednesday. Not sure what this means, but these are the facts.
Time is Priceless
I began by listing my top 3. God, family, and relationships. Mom’s passing caused me to focus even more on these three central parts of my life. I surely have not focused on cleaning my home, my ministry, this blog, or much else. However, I spent my time just how I think I have been supposed to. I really do not know how people go through this life changing experience without God. That is something I will be writing more about here. Spirituality, Christian spirituality in particular, is a key to making it through loss and grief. Family is key. Deepening relationships with family members and friends and God just may be the secret to remaining standing.
Grief comes and go in waves. and will continue to do so. I know that theory. I’ve seen it in practice with those I have met in ministry. Clearly, I have a good idea of what may be on the horizon. I shared with a friend that with all of the busy, I haven’t even started my own grief process. Grief will come. Again, that time will be priceless.
I do hope you have noticed through this free-flowing sharing that there are a lot of opportunity for pre-planning and thinking ahead. Soon, very soon, I will be sharing a much more practical article about this process. It will include a variety of steps that I will encourage everyone to take. Because, guess what! Time is money, but more than that, time is PRICELESS!
I will always miss you, Mom and Dad. I have been so blessed by such wonderful parents. Time spent with them was priceless. Go spend your time with your loved ones. Spend time with God, the One who loves you most.