1. When time is up, there is no more. This is obvious, you might say, but not necessarily obvious in our behavior. We too often go through our days assuming we will have more time. Until we don’t. No more time to clean out that storage shed that we put things in years ago, and planned to go through, and didn’t. Now, someone else will have to do that, and make decisions about that stuff. It may not be stuff in a storage shed. It may be things in an attic or basement. The point is the same. If we haven’t needed or wanted the stuff stuck in a shed, attic, or basement out of sight for years, do we really think someone else will? No, we don’t really think that. We just don’t take action to do it. We will get to it later, then later is too late.
2. If we do not record the combination or give the keys to our locked cabinets to someone, they are left having to figure out how to get into those. If we have valuables in those locked cabinets and haven’t made our wishes known about them, others will make those decisions. Our valuables may be in drawers or boxes instead of cabinets; the point is the same.
3. Our most precious possessions are our loved ones. Not our valuables, our money, or our other tangible resources, but our loved ones. It is those closest to us that we cling to in our last days, not our stuff. Then why do we spend so much time and energy accumulating stuff and less time with those we love, until it is too late? You tell me.
4. The importance of making time to share our stories, recipes, and memories. I remember our nieces and other family members gathering around my husband Mike’s Dad a few years ago during Thanksgiving and recording their “interview” of him. While having the information he provided about his life as a young man, his military years, and other details about his life, hearing his voice as he talked about those is even more of a treasure, especially now, since Dad is gone. The recipes I have in the handwriting of my special aunt Bebo, special friend/second “mother” Shirshee, and first mother-in-law MawMaw Pennington, are more valuable than my “valuables.” Memories shared together of our recently departed friend Jim made our time of mourning also a time of joy. Are you making time to share stories, recipes, and memories while you still can, or will these die with you?
5. The need to spend our time on things that really matter to us. I found myself wondering if what I was spending my time doing today was really worthwhile. Even if the city I was in, where I spend a lot of time, was where I wanted to be. There are no easy answers to these questions for me. But I hope that when the answers are clear, that I will be able to follow their lead.
6. The need to get my affairs in order. This includes my financial affairs, including an updated will; the Living Will; Burial or Cremation, and where I want my ashes or body to go. Details for my funeral or memorial service, if those details matter to me. Some reading this may think making plans for some of this is premature. It may be. But is it, really? Only if I do not care what happens to my financial resources, my service “sending me off,” and my body after death. I realize this is not what we want to think about and make plans for. But if we are financially responsible, and if we do care about what happens when we die, we will make these plans, so our family knows our wishes, and is able to grieve without the worry of these details.
7. The importance of making every moment count. The need to spend our days focused on joy, beauty, and health. Joy, not pleasure, for pleasure is transitory, and joy is life sustaining. Beauty, even when there is so much around us that is focused on division, not beauty. Health, so we are able to enjoy our life and our loved ones, able to play, able to dance, able to walk on the beach.
“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.” (William Blake).