I had an extraordinary experience a couple of weeks ago. As many of you know, my Mom died last year, and during five days or so around Mother's Day, it was time to go through her "treasures," discard or give away many things, pay tribute to a life well-lived, and spend some time grieving our loss.
I was amazed at the people who were blessed by my Mom, delighted to give them a "remembrance," and I was stunned to realize yet again the "things" that mean something to others. I have a few of my Mom's things. I live quite a distance from the Homeplace, so it makes life a tad difficult in terms of getting large things back to the place I call "home."
To look at the homeplace, it really isn't much to look at, but within the walls of this home, I learned much about life, work, honesty, integrity, love, commitment, and spiritual values. We learned to be good people. We learned to "show up" when it was the right thing to do for others...weddings, funerals, church commitments, school events, etc. We learned to do the things that mattered. We learned to do the things that made a difference in the world.
When we began clearing out the contents of our home, it was as if Mom had never left the classroom. There were "school lessons" too numerous to mention: children's supplementary materials for learning specific concepts, resource materials for all sorts of educational interests, funny stories for presentations, inspirational stories, and quilting materials beyond belief (three trash bags full!). Mom's treasures represented her life...a life of educational commitment, spiritual commitment, love-thy-neighbor reminders of all sorts, and materials that reminded us that she had spent hours and hours investing in her own personal aesthetics and gifts...handwork samples of quilting, crochet, and embroidery.
I am so grateful for the days spent with family. Our home became a family reunion of sorts during those five days...cousins, their families we scarcely knew, love expressed by all in a "legend of Aunt Mildred" sort of way. No one cared about what they took home as a gift from Aunt Mildred, as long as they received something. We did our best to make it happen, and everyone pitched in to assist with the clean-out. Wonderful cousins and brother!!
We gave most of Mom's things to a caregiver who took care of her when sons and a daughter were too far away to take her to get some chicken soup or a pot pie. Mrs. Betty was terrific to my Mom. She would take Mom in her car, and they would go places to break the monotony of a retirement home. We learned to appreciate Mrs. Betty more than words can express, and we found that Mrs. Betty appreciated Mom's things more than anyone could believe. It really didn't matter the value. As long as Mom was attached to "the thing" in some way, it was a valuable thing to Betty. It was a wonderful love and admiration to experience.
As I have lost a husband and Mom within a year, I am thinking most days about how my life has drastically changed. It might not be the life I wanted or the life I chose...but my life is still to be cherished in loving, magnificent ways...because it awaits me every day. I get to make those same decisions that the Old Homeplace taught me. I get to decide every day of my life whether I will make a difference....a difference that might come through my work...or through honesty, integrity, love, commitment, and spiritual values. I get to be a good person. I get to "show up" when it is the right thing to do. I get to do the things that matter.
When it is all said and done, "making a difference" has been the goal for most people I have admired. My husband and my Mom would be at the top of that list. As I live my life, I want to make that one desire a perenially echoing goal in everything I do. Something that makes a difference! Something that matters! Thanks, Mom and Bill. Thanks, beloved Homeplace.