Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The 'Stuffing' of Life

This past weekend, my siblings and I had the daunting task of clearing out my mother and father's home since my mother passed away three months ago at age 63 and my father passed away four years ago at age 61 - both from cancer.

Since no who is really living - and my parents were ALIVE - plans on leaving this life at such a young age, unimportant things tended to get put off. The closets had not been cleaned out and the shed was a mess. There was an accumulation of papers and stuff under her bed that would have been a rat's nesting utopia. Her files were outdated and there were even crumbs behind the appliances.

But as we went through the stuff, we also found love letters from my dad to my mom and journal entries written by my mom about how much she had missed and loved him. We found pictures of family gatherings and our prize winning art pieces and papers from school. There were clothes from special occasions and dried flowers that my dad had given her on their first date.

Bottom line, we found a life of memories amongst that stuff in a household that had been a child's haven from the world and a jumping off point for our aspiring dreams and personal growth.

The whole experience made me stop and think about what truly is important and what the definition of stuff actually is.

Webster's first definition defines 'stuff' as the material or substance out of which anything is or can be made. Looking at my mom's 8 drawer collection of ribbons, tissue paper, paper scraps and gift bags, string and yarn, paper punches, glue and pipe cleaners, I decided that this would certainly constitute as stuff. But so would her collection of books that she read to the grandkids and acted out scenes from. Or dad's camping gear that made many a forest site look like the Hilton.

My uncle once said that he's yet to see a hearse followed by a U-Haul filled with stuff on the way to the cemetery but I have to admit, as I went through all of my parents' stuff I learned another one of life's great lessons.It's the 'stuff' that dreams are made of.


Roxie said...

That is so absolutely true. My father sold my parents' house very shortly after my mother died four years ago. We had to go through the house very quickly. Mother had inherited many family papers from my grandmother and I am still sifting through them.

I treasure that "stuff" and the memories the stuff encapsulates.

Thanks for the great post.

Tristi Pinkston said...

What a great post, Stacy!

Hey, what is your final word count from the July BIAM? And we need to make plans for Monday!

Dan and Wendy said...

One of my favorite things to do at my parent's house is to have them pull out the old Super 8 home movies and watch. They bring back such a flood of good memories.

Thanks for sharing this post. You are a very talented writer. Tristi asked me if I'd be a part of your virtual tour for The Santa Letters. What an amazing book. I can't wait to write about it on my blog.

Josi said...

So true, what a great post and a positive spin on a very hard job. We hear so much about 'stuff' being a bad thing, but you're absolutely right, sometimes it's the best thing we could have.