On Treasures Lost and Found
As part of the excitement of Spring’s arrival, we have been doing some Spring cleaning around Chez Gainey. It always feels good to clear out things that are no longer of use to us, get them to people who can use them, and just enjoy the space. I know that I could never be a hoarder, as the compulsion to clean out and give away is too strong. Sometimes, though, in the process of cleaning out, you find treasures that you didn’t realize you had.
The first treasure came when Dan cleaned out his yoga bag. He came to me looking rather sheepish…”Honey, I’m really sorry, but I have something for you, and I’m afraid I should have given it to you months ago.” It seems that someone in his yoga class had handed him something for me at the end of a class when several people were talking to him. I took the envelope and slowly opened it. Inside was a card dated August 18th, three days after my mother died. It was from Eyrn, a regular in Dan’s class who has become a good friend. There was a sweet message and a special gift enclosed- a pocket angel. I told Dan that there was a reason this gift had waited to be delivered to me…some Angel knew that I would need it on the seventh anniversary of my mother’s death when I have, for some reason, been feeling her loss deeply. How perfect to receive this gift of kindness, this angel to keep with me when I feel my mother’s absence. Mom was always my angel, and she still is.
The next gift came as I worked to clean out my closet. I took out some purses and decided to go through them. I pulled out several receipts (with mental apologies to Dan, who balances our checkbook). Next came several pieces of paper, and I froze when I read what was scribbled on them. They were grocery lists from my mother, some of the lists that she compiled each week like a favorite hobby. So many images passed before me, hearing her recite the lists to me, being very specific about which brands she wanted (and often, why she didn’t want certain brands). Work would be crazy, so I would often go very early Sunday morning, and then pick up a special breakfast for her from McDonalds. She was always so excited, and always acted surprised, even though she knew I would bring her a treat. I knew it wasn’t the healthiest thing, but I also knew she wouldn’t be with me much longer, and it brought her so much happiness. Sometimes you just have to live in the moment and enjoy the little things when you know time is short….or maybe we should do that all of the time, as we never truly know how much time we have with those we love.
As I looked at the lists, I also remembered how I would sometimes be so stressed trying to take care of work, home, and Mom’s needs. I would grab everything on her list and head to Princeton Towers at top speed…and inevitably, my cell would sing out with Mom’s special ring several miles down the road…
“Neese, this is Mom. I forgot the most important thing!”
I would sigh inside, grateful that there was a Walgreen’s right by Princeton Towers, knowing that I could usually pick up whatever Mom had forgotten and needed so desperately. Toward the end, she became more and more forgetful, and I am glad that I learned to roll with it and not be upset. My life can get frantic, but it was never too busy to help my mom.
A friend of mine wrote a beautiful post about being in the moment with a loved one today. It really touched me as I remember my time with my mother, and what I learned from it. Life truly is short, and we often waste so much precious time worrying about the day-to-day chores of work and life, instead of what really matters- truly being with our loved ones. Really being with them- the kind of being with them where you truly see who they are, you communicate from the heart, share the good stuff of life. How often do we rush past that, thinking there will be another chance when we’re not so busy. Often, that chance never comes, and we are only left with regrets, with what could have been.
I learned from the last month with my mother to never take those times for granted. I tell my husband I love him whenever I feel the urge, even if it is several times a day. I never want him to doubt for a second through my words or actions that he means the world to me. I tell my friends and siblings that I love them a lot, tell them I am grateful for them. I try to do nice things for people who shown me kindness. Why wait? I want them to feel my love and gratitude, the best gift I can give to them. As Dan made dinner this evening, I sat by the candlelit fireplace with our dogs, now seven and eight. I saw Coops as the tiny puppy I found in an alley during a terrible storm. I saw Sophie as the big-eared puppy I adopted to be a companion for Mom. I hugged each of them, telling them I loved them, thanking them for the beauty they have brought into my life. I wanted to tell them now, to show them- as I try to do every day- rather than waiting until it was too late, when I am crying over their loss.
My lesson in all of this is to continue to work on being in the moment, living in gratitude. So many things can get in the way if we let them, but this is what I know deep in my heart- love is the most important thing- always. There will be time to worry about the day-to-day minutiae, but we’re not guaranteed endless time with those we love. Let’s all take a deep breath, remember what is really important to us, where our treasures really are. I know where mine are- and I’m going to make sure they all have no doubt how I feel, grateful that I had the opportunity to show them. Call me sentimental- that’s okay. I’ll take sentimental over ungrateful or regretful any day.