I had a unique experience this Memorial Day Weekend that I felt compelled to share. It is Sabrina and my 10-year wedding anniversary. We spent the weekend on a few “honey-do” things and reflecting on a few memories of fun times over the last 10 years. On the same day, I also attended a funeral – wake for an acquaintance who recently passed away from pancreatic cancer. Similarly, it was an afternoon of sharing stories and laughing among memories.
This experience reminded me of something I’ve been witnessing recently in our business. We’ve had a fair number of cases where parents have passed away or been moved into a care facility, leaving the house and contents to the adult children. Of course there is a lot of emotion due to the passing parent, but I can tell the kids are just overwhelmed. More importantly, I have seen time after time they just don’t care about the contents of the house.
I think we spend a lot of time accumulating possessions throughout our lives, so much that sometimes we need to rent additional storage space. We place value on this stuff, or worse, we even place our own self-worth on the items we have bought.
Let me tell you, whoever inherits your stuff after you pass away really doesn’t want it. I’ve witnessed it time after time. They throw it out, or give it away, or garage-sale it to others who are in the same rat race of collecting stuff. We convince ourselves, “oh Jimmy is really going to want those fishing rods, or Susie always appreciated those quilts”, but in reality that stuff really didn’t mean very much at all.
Would it be better to collecting memories and experiences instead of hoarding “stuff”? What do we want our children to remembered and share it with their children?
One family member I worked with recently had discovered a box of old reel-to-reel audio recordings and a tape player. When he set it up he realized he was listening to his own family singing and joking and telling stories on a tape that would be sent to their family back east. He couldn’t stop listening to them and went through countless reels remembering his childhood.
He looked at me and joked, “That’s the way we did it back then, this is how we kept in touch and the east coasters would record something else and send it back to us. I guess that was an early form of ‘facebook’.”
We need to get out and do something together with the ones closest to us. Think about the impact we could leave by journaling daily/weekly emotions and decisions into a book of wisdom. I could only imagine the treasures that would be passed down by recounting stories and episodes as they unfold.
This is where my thoughts gathered on this Memorial Day weekend.