My mother passed recently. It was one of the most heartbreaking yet profound experiences of my life.
The part I want to share with you here is that in the end, 'stuff' doesn't matter. What mattered most to myself and my family was her treasure trove of photos. We spent 2 full days at the kitchen table sharing memories and gaining new insights into my mothers life through her pictures. It bonded us, created new memories and brought us all closer together. Of all her things, the photos are what we will all treasure the most going forward.
My mother owned a small house on acreage, a car, and a household of items she spent a lifetime collecting. She guarded them all fiercely, and I think she associated some of her identity in those things. When she fell ill, the house, the car, and anything of value was sold to pay for her care. Such is the sad truth of growing old in this country. The elderly are treated horribly by the government and institutions. It truly devastated her and was heartbreaking to witness, but in the end, what she held onto most tightly was her pictures, her books, and her music. Those, along with her paintings (she was a fine artist) were what told the story of who she was. The things she was passionate about, the way she saw the world and her place in it, and her hopes and dreams were all reflected in the photos, the things she painted, the music she listened to, the musings she wrote on little scraps of paper, and the books she read. All the other things helped make a comfortable home, but there was no true value to them past that.
What wasn't sold, was donated after her death. What myself and my family kept were the photos, her paintings, books and music. Seeing a whole lifetime, condensed into a handful of boxes was sad yet profound.
This winter, I will be scanning, printing, sharing and archiving those precious photos to make sure they are preserved for family members. My story is not unusual, it's actually far too common. Many a dumpster has been filled with 'stuff' that someone valued that was of no meaning to family members.
This experience has made me even more passionate about what I do. There is a newfound clarity and sense of purpose that you will see reflected in the year to come. May everyone reading this have a beautiful Holiday Season. Make memories, hold loved ones close, be sure to take a lot of photos, and for those extra special moments, hiring a professional photographer is money very well spent. One day it will mean more than anything else you own to your family.