I guess I saw this moment coming, I just didn’t realize it would arrive so quickly.
My children are splitting up their inheritance and I’m not dead yet.
As begins most of my plights, I was going along, minding my own business, cleaning stuff. This is my happy place and people should respect it. By people, I mean the quasi-adult humans that I spent many hours and several body parts birthing in a hospital and the rest of my life cleaning up behind. We are hosting actual adults this summer and naturally, this means my feather duster is putting in some overtime.
I cleaned out my bookcase.
Here’s how that looked in my mind: These treasures came from a used book shop for a quarter each. They are ratty because they were loved but no one reads them anymore. I shall return them to the shelves from whence they came and rejoice some stranger’s heart.
Here’s how that looked to my kids: These treasures came from Mom’s bookshelf and they are spun from pure gold. They are ratty because I accidentally left them in the tree fort/floor of my car/washing machine. I shall rescue these irreplaceable tomes and anything else not nailed down before my mother’s dementia progresses to the point where she can’t remember that I wanted that!
Now. As I descend from a long line of women who kept stuff around just for the pleasure of dusting it, I am not emotionally bound to any one item. If it delights the heart of my children, by all means take it now. They can dust it for me and decide whether I get visitation rights.
But. In the back of my aged mind I hear warning bells. Don’t confuse the real things with the fake. I’m not talking about diamonds. I’m discussing relationships. Things are replaceable. Books are dime a dozen. You only have one Mom and her shelf life isn’t quite the same.
Well, depending on who you ask, I suppose.
You may have noticed, no one is ever pronounced “dead” at a funeral. Lots of interesting phrases though – the latest trend being “celebration of life” – because who wants to be a Debbie Downer when someone exits their current house full of loot, never to return?
Most religions subscribe to a “Me, Act 1” and “Me, Act 2” version. There’s a ‘before’ and an ‘after’. It’s uncomfortable to discuss the turning point. No one likes to dwell on that little detail. But you’re not dead.
Buddhists would have me doing re-runs until Netflix is obsolete. Not so exciting, but steady work.
Hindus would put me in a mini-series (starring Angelina Jolie).
But if this life is a one-off, he who dies with the most toys wins. Of course, if you’re the lucky dead dude, you yourself won’t know you won, but everyone left standing around will, and as that’s the whole point, it’s a win-win. That would be cause for celebration, certainly.
They will put my ashes in an urn or my photo in a frame, and set me on the shelf with the books they rescued and dust us all the same. I’m okay with that, because I read a Book that says dead is dead and dust is dust and if I am interested in an Act 2 I should bring it up with the Big Guy and make resurrection arrangements.
Meanwhile, allow me to suggest an excellent book: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.
No, you can’t have it. Yet.
I am merely suggesting that if we’re going to go around putting PostIt notes under the big-screen TV and the InstantPot, there had better also be a modicum of manners.
I’m not dead. Yet.