Posted by Sue on Feb 20, 2010
I am more and more convinced that our happiness or our unhappiness depends far more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.
~ Karl Wilhelm von Humboldt
I have always loved Valentine’s Day, but not for its Hallmark glitz or heart-shaped candy boxes. Valentine’s Day gives us the opportunity to stop and express our love and gratitude.
In anticipation of the 14th and in gratitude for my mother, who taught me to love, I offer you these words.
My mother has mid-stage Alzheimer’s. Her memory is slowly drifting away. The memories of her lifetime and our family before she was born are no longer accessible. I can no longer ask her to name
those people that look a bit like me in the black and white photos
stored in the cedar chest. I’ll never know the stories behind the
quirky candlesticks or the (obviously) cheap tin candy dish. Why
did she keep what she kept? I meant to ask her years ago. I meant
to make an album of remembrances and capture those precious times
before they slipped away. But I was busy doing other things. And
now it’s too late.
I have plenty of time to ponder these things during my 1 1/2 hr
drive to Amherst to visit my folks. I know that what is most
important is my mother’s presence, and I strive to cherish the time
I have with her. But her declining health is a reality check: A
reminder that I don’t have all the time in the world. All I have -
all any one of us have – is the present: The RIGHT NOW. And so,
in the present, I take out those photos and share them with her.
Sometimes they spark a memory or bring forward a face or a time or
a story, and sometimes they are just blurred faces in black and
I can’t change the past. What I CAN change is how I handle the
stuff of memories in my own attic and cedar chest: The memories
that I don’t want lost.
Sorting through lifetimes’ of stuff and recording important
memories has been a Breathing Space theme for years. Joanna urges
clients and workshop participants to – PLEASE SORT YOUR STUFF NOW!
Do it while you can still get up and down the ladder to the attic.
Sort it while you can still recall the name of your first love or
the beach where you found your first intact starfish. Without the
stories, the meaning the item had for you is lost. If something is
a treasure, put a tiny note with it – Under the base of the
candlesticks or in the little box with the rings: Whose were they
and what was the occasion?
Obviously your kids and their kids can enjoy things just knowing
that they belonged to you, or their grand parents or ancestors.
But if the thing is a treasure, something that matters to you, then
give your loved ones the treasure along with the thing and thus,
pass along a treasured piece of yourself. With this mindset,
decluttering become a treasure hunt. As you create more space ,
cherish the items that truly touch your heart. And take that extra
moment to write down why. Those memories could be the best
Valentine’s Day gift you ever give!