When I told my friend my vision, he said he was thinking about establishing a fund and giving away theater tickets in order for the living to remember him. “Here, it’s on me,” he wanted to say from his grave. My husband liked that idea and thought that maybe he would establish a fund that would give away Yankee tickets. He might get a busload of people wanting to remember him. But that would leave me giving away books or tickets to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (I obviously would not be needing a bus).
My daughter found a nature preserve upstate NY, where bodies are buried unmarked. I think she hopes we will sign on there so that she will have one more excuse to go hiking.
Since we are the “ME” generation, proud of breaking rules and pushing the envelope, is anyone planning to do something unique? Or will you, in the end, settle for the same old, same old traditional / religious last rites?
AND WHEN EXACTLY ARE YOU PLANNING ON PURCHASING THAT COVETED PLOT? I have been throwing away those advertisements since I was forty!!!!!!!!!
When I was studying interior space planning for commercial applications, we were given a funeral parlor to redesign. It was a local business, and looked more like a pizza parlor than anything else to me. The walls had walnut formica paneling halfway up. The top part was a blue and green floral print wallpaper. Heavy drapes closed the windows off for privacy. When I went into measure the two viewing rooms, I realized I was not alone.
You have to forgive me – I was in my early twenties and I was not raised Catholic. But the bodies gave me a sense of purpose and drama. I decided to embellish on the theatrics. I drew up a stage on the diagonal. I thought about the kind of stage lights that give off a cloudy haziness. I wanted the body to be the focal point. I wanted 4 different colored upholstered light weight chairs that could be moved around to form spontaneous conversation groups. I was thinking sorbet colors – soft blueberry, raspberry, peach, and mango. I wanted soft peach or blueberry carpeting. I thought the viewing could serve as the transitionary send off. I wanted to allude to a heaven that I desperately wanted to believe in.
Do you know the commercial where a young mother is holding a cell phone and walking out of a house? She asks her mother about the house that had been on the market. It might even be the house next door. (PLEASE do not ask me what the commercial is selling. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast and besides whether it is a realtor or a phone company or dog food, it it irrelevant to my point!). Her mom tells her the house sold. The daughter says: “I know” and walks out of the house, up to her mom, kisses her, and lets her know that she was the buyer!
Well, that has become my favorite commercial ever since my cousin’s daughter moved into an apartment in the same condo building as my cousin. Why did her daughter do that? So that when her oldest gets dropped off from school, he can go directly to his grandparents and she can continue to work carefree for the rest of the day.
Am I the only mom who is wishing and hoping that will happen to her? I go to open houses in our neighborhood and pray.
I remember how hard it was to be a single mom, raise a daughter, and work two jobs.
Every time I call my daughter, I ask her if there is anything we can do to help. And every time, she tells me she is fine. That is how I know she is not yet mature. When you are truly mature, you can’t believe that anyone else is actually OFFERING help and you don’t hesitate – the definitive “yes” just pops out and you feel such relief and gratitude.
I have this theory that you take the average life span and you divide it in half. The first half you are just growing up and the second half you are an adult. Prehistoric man lived maybe thirty years. So, they became became adults when they were in their teens. Since we are living on average into our 80s, we can’t expect our “adult children” to be really mature until they are middle aged!!!!! I don’t know you feel about it, but my theory explains an awful lot of ridiculous behavior!
The thing that got me started thinking about my “stuff” was a conversation I had with a complete stranger while we were standing on line at the Marriott in Birmingham, AL. I was there visiting my step children. Out of the blue, the woman in front of me on the line for breakfast omelets started telling me that she was in Birmingham to clean out her mother’s estate. She could not believe how much stuff she had to go through. She said she wished that her mother had given her a manual full of stories because she could not fathom the reason behind the items. What did they mean to her mother? To her they were just junk. She could not make heads or tails out of the clutter and she did not have the time to go through all of it. She had to get back to Texas to work.
When we got home, I looked around my tiny beach cottage home. I saw all the paintings that no one will be able to store even if they wanted to. I saw my furniture through the eyes of my daughter and step children. I have Ethan Allen traditional pieces alongside garage sale chic. Every item has a story. But who had time to tell the story and who had time to listen?
And besides, the adult kids all want West Elm. They aren’t interest in our stuff.
I have my old stamp collection from when I was seven. My husband has common baseball cards from the 50s.
We have scrapbooks and CDs. Who really uses CDs anymore?
We have seashells that I collected from every beach vacation that we took.
We have seven years of tax returns.
We have gardening tools that may be considered antique by now.
I have afghans and shawls that I had knitted. I have all the circular and straight knitting needles I thought I would use forever.
We have balls – baseballs, tennis balls, basketballs, bowling balls, beach balls, soccer balls, golf balls.
I have throw pillows from every decorating and redecorating phase.
I have carpets from every decorating and redecorating phase.
We have playbills from all the Broadway and off Broadway shows we have ever seen. They don’t take up much space and they tell a story of fun.
We have lived in this beach cottage of 984 sq. ft. for decades!!!! So how much stuff could we really accumulate in such a small space?
And yet there is still all this stuff!!!!!!!
So tell the truth… How many of you have looked around your house or apartment and asked yourself how much stuff do you really need?
I know that I have accumulated stuff and have gotten rid of stuff only to accumulate again and again and again.
I bought books and sold books. I bought more books.
I bought clothes and I sold and/or donated clothes. I bought more clothes.
We have had garage sales. We have sold stuff on ebay. We have packed up stuff and are storing it in the attic, the basement, and the backyard sheds. But we still have stuff.
My walls are full of paintings. Maybe yours are full of photographs.
My shelves hold things I “need.” But I collect vintage tablecloths and I do not know why.
I have lots of handmade necklaces with so called semi precious stones from my working days when I had discretionary income. I have Vera Bradley bags when everyone thought they would be the next collectible. I have a few depression and carnival glassware pieces that I inherited from my dearest aunt.
I have all sorts of vases.
I have a wooden sign that sits atop my shelves in my office that says: ACHIEVE. For the love of God, achieve what?
to be continued
ADULT CHILDREN has to be an oxymoron. And it is confusing…very confusing.
A young colleague of mine once joked that her mother would still be breastfeeding her if she could.
You want your children to be independent but you also want them to want to live nearby. You want your children to be strong but you want to help them. You want your children to be self reliant but you don’t want them to be too proud to ask for support.
It is tricky. You love to shower them with things you never had and with support you never got. But you don’t want to smother them. You don’t want them to conclude that you don’t believe in them. But it really gives you pleasure to help. And you want to be part of their life. You have so much more experience and they are working and you have the time. However, when you help, you do not want to be taken advantage of, abused, or taken for granted. And you do not want to feel that you ARE the amazon fulfillment center or THE HELP. But you do want to be appreciated and loved.
A friend of mine answered “Yes” when I asked if we are trying to buy our children’s love. And I thought – that was refreshingly honest. I felt happy: Thank Goodness, I can afford to buy a piece of my children’s love and Thank Goodness, I cannot afford to buy all of their love!!!
What if I stopped wishing that one – if not all – of my children would want to live nearby?
What if I thought ONLY about MY needs? What if I did not put anyone else’s needs before my own?
Would I want to live in my house? in the suburbs?
Would I want to move into the city? Would I want to feed on the vibrancy of city life?
Would I connect better to the NYC crowd?
Would I benefit from going to museums, attending lectures given by intellectuals? Would I participate in a vaster cultural life?
AND DARE I?
How do people know what they want to do in retirement? I knew I had to retire because I was too tired to get up at 5:00 a.m. and commute an hour each way. But I wasn’t ready to give it all up.
What if you don’t golf? What if you had melanoma so Florida is out? What if you have ALWAYS been more focused on work than on social get togethers? What if you don’t like volunteering because you still like to earn money? What if you are committed to family and want to be around for grandkids but your own daughter sees your help as a threat to her independence? What do you do with your time?
So, far, my husband and I have not made any major moves, nor any major changes.
We both tutor. We go to the gym and exercise – everyday now. And we babysit when asked. BUT…
NOW IF YOU THINK THE CHANUKAH MENORAH IS CUTE, LOOK WHAT ELSE I ORDERED…along with this book:
THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE,
I’M GONNA LET IT SHINE,
LET IT SHINE,
LET IT SHINE,
LET IT SHINE.