In her weekly column, Cynthia Breadner of GriefCafeBradford discusses the emotions and memories triggered by old trinkets found around the house
Do not wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul! Buddah’s Teaching
Recently, I moved the bedroom around to dust, tidy and get into the corners. It is a good feeling when something like this is completed. As I was going through the motions of moving the bed, I kicked something that was under the bed. I pulled out a suitcase! As I looked at it, memories began flooding back. This suitcase has written on it in fancy script “Carnival Cruises 2000″. This little carry-on suitcase came to me via the clearing out of my mother’s home when she died in 2009. We were so blessed that our mother was only in formal care for about three weeks when she died, so we had work to do in my childhood home.
I have many mementos around my place that I have gathered and keep on display. This particular bag, while not a knick-knack, holds big memories. It reminds me of the Y2K year and the year 1999. This year dubbed Y2K, as it was moving into the new millennia and we would no longer date any day beginning in “19”. As the year 1999 ticked along, it was being proposed the world could come to an end on December 31, 1999. Everyone was on edge, life as we knew it could change. Speculation was high. Fear was heightened and bunkers were built and stocked with water, canned goods, gasoline, blankets, batteries, transistor radios and on and on. This time was of great distress for my 80-year-old mother and her fear of what was to come put her on high alert. It was then pushed over the top when my sister and her husband announced they were going to go on a millennia cruise and be in the middle of the ocean on December 31, 1999, hence the suitcase, which was a gift on this cruise. Oh Dear! You can imagine the anxiousness and stressful holiday season my mother was put in that year. I can hear her to this day …. “Oh, Leslie …” and she would lament to my dad her daily concerns.
This story is all to say how I cherish the moments when a material object can drop one down a rabbit hole of cherished memories and familiar, loving thoughts. I can look around my space and my eyes will fall on many different items that hold emotional energy. In my lifetime, I have moved often and been fluid when it came to keeping precious items from my past. I was lax, however I still have many cherished things. I can only imagine (and witnessed when my mom died) how much there is when someone has lived in a home for their lifetime, or better yet YOUR lifetime.
As I work with families and mom, dad or auntie must make a move or decide purposefully to downsize into smaller digs or to a retirement home, this becomes a great thorn of contention. The memories tied to all the knick-knacks, veneer furniture, junk drawer contents, and most of all, childhood toys and clothes, all need to be dealt with and often the younger generation does not have the patience or the understanding of the plethora of emotions that comes at this time.
So, while you may not be dealing with this today, your day will come. As you look around your own space, think back to when something showed up in your life. Where you got that decorative ashtray? Who gave you tools in the old toolbox? And your mom’s nightgown? (I still wear one of my mom’s nightgowns). Take a minute to be thankful you can remember, and then take it forward with you in life, as people in your world help you take them down memory lane to reminisce. You will get there with your kids, I know I have. Be thankful you have the memories and the cognitive ability to retrieve them, share them and laugh once again at your Y2K story. Better yet, do not delay … tell them about them all TODAY, just in case!
Cynthia Breadner is a soul care worker who offers one-on-one homecare for aging adults who choose to age in place. This care includes emotional support, physical care, mental well-being, and spiritual practices to soothe the soul. She is a volunteer at hospice, LTC chaplain and a death doula, assisting with end-of-life for client and family. She is the founder of GriefCafeBradford and practices soul care in the South Simcoe and North York region. She raises awareness how birth and death, each end of life can both be joy-filled and hopeful passages. Cynthia.Breadner@gmail.com breakingstibah.com