While in Arizona for my grandmother’s funeral my family members and I got to relish the opportunity to sort through hundreds, maybe even thousands, of my grandmother’s photos. She had a vast collection spanning many decades all thrown together in a couple of suitcases. Pictures from back when she was likely in her early thirties (before I ever met her) and all the way through the last two or three years of her life. My aunts, uncle and I all picked through the pictures recalling old memories and sharing them with some of our children. It was truly wonderful in many ways. I saw pictures I never knew existed. I saw my mother in various forms of her life including teen years and as a young mother. I loved sharing this time with my family. We were all hungry for good memories and to find the next treasure in the chest. It was very cathartic for all of us and really bonded us in our grief.
And this was all my grandmother left behind for the most part. Anything of any value actually. She had a few trinkets and knick-knacks, but all essentially worthless. And no meaning in any of them. When I first walked into my aunt’s home she had some of grandma’s jewelry laid out on the kitchen table. The first question to me was, “would you like to have anything?” The last thing I want right now is to pick apart my grandmother’s life piece by piece and parcel everything out. It seems strange to me in so many ways. We work so hard to have the things we have to enjoy life. We labor over these things and worry about them. We pack and unpack only to pack again and move them about with us as we travel from home to home in our moves through life. Yet at the end of the day when the death bell rings and we have ascended to glory, all we have are some old pieces of costume jewelry and knick-knacks that nobody really wants. We are reduced down to the few meaningless possessions which are split amongst those who care about us the most. And then I wonder, does it even matter? Those things are just things and do not represent her or why she mattered to me. She was a person whose life mattered. How she loved me mattered. How her infectious attitude and laugh mattered. Her zest for life and her love of Jesus mattered. She mattered, not the things she possessed. I guess this is why I didn’t want anything of hers. All she could give me she gave while she was alive. She gave me the greatest memories and taught the best values. She left a legacy that cannot be associated with any sum of money or equated to treasures to take to the pawn shop, she left a living legacy of love, hard work, happiness, joy, and family.
At the end of my life I hope someone can say the same for me and what I’ve done with my life. I hope that whatever material possessions I have remaining aren’t riffled through with reckless abandon but are treasured and respected while also not being valued over my life. I hope that the people who surround me while love each other, reminisce on their time with me, cherish each other deeply, support each other in their grief, and leave the event better because it happened.
The Repressed Peach