Friday, January 22, 2010

The End of My Life

Just recently we’ve had the privilege of working for an elderly gentleman who has a wonderful disposition and sharp wit. He’s a retired educator, like my dad. As a matter of fact my dad took his place teaching at East High School here in Des Moines, when this man retired. Economics I think.

Anyway, my new found friend is struggling with health issues. He’s 82 tomorrow. We’ll take him some Mylar balloons. He’s in the hospital awaiting surgery. That’s a fine happy birthday. Father God, may you give John the grace and strength to come through this surgery and gain mobility and freedom from pain.

As my wife and I progressed through our job at his house, I came to realize that after many years of life and marriage, most of us end up with a house full of stuff that means little to anyone but us. As a matter of fact, if we find ourselves at the end of our lives and no one is there to collect our stuff, it just goes into probate and lawyers figure out whose stuff it should become.

Now here was my thought. His dear wife passed away a few years ago, but she left lots of stuff in their house. Now he’s there trying to figure out what to do with all that stuff. So are we.

And I was thinking; a life of acquisition and accumulation, a life of travel and fun with friends and family, a home filled with memories and then life simply ends. No one is there to find value in the things that we once held dear.

Oh, I know our hope is that children or those in charge of our estate will find value in the same things we found value in, then sell our stuff and pass along the wealth, but really. Does anyone else care about the things I care about?

So it comes down to this. Seventy or eighty years of life and lots of stuff amassed and then, you’re gone. You can’t take it with you, and unless someone is really savvy in brokering old stuff that even the Goodwill might only give you a charitable giving receipt for, what’s it all worth?

The bottom line is not much. We tend to surround ourselves with stuff, because somehow stuff makes us feel better about ourselves, in a false way, but we rarely realize that fact. We just keep piling up the stuff.

When I’m gone, I pray that Sarah and I will have cleaned out everything that could be left behind. That’s right; I don’t want to leave anything behind except cash for my kids. And even that is meaningless to fill the void of a loved one passed on into eternity.

So, if you’ve got lots of stuff. Start working on sifting it out. Your kids will be glad you did.

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