Go ahead and get your tissue box now; I have mine on my lap as I write this. Let me tell you a beautiful story.
An 80-year-old mother knew her health was failing, but she didn’t tell her children how bad it was really getting. Her 82-year-old husband was afflicted with dementia; the disease was just starting to rear its ugly head and become too much for her to handle, seeing her beloved husband of 58 years slip away.
This mom and dad lived far away from their two children and grandchildren by choice. All of their dearest friends were in Florida, and that is where they wanted to spend their golden years together. The only problem was as the years passed, they watched all their friends get sick and pass away one by one, visiting each of them in the nursing homes and hospitals, saying their goodbyes.
Their family loved each other dearly and always remained close in heart through daily phone calls and emails, reminiscing and sending each other “remember whens.” But it was time to call in help and the children intervened, trying to get them closer geographically. Finally, mom agreed. When the middle-aged daughter went for a visit to discuss options and make decisions, the mom again showed the daughter where all their trust and other legal papers were located, to make sure the kids knew where everything could be found. How heartbreaking for the daughter to see her parents decline and become fragile, and equally hard for the mom to discuss her final wishes and personal thoughts with the daughter.
Bury me in this dress, call these people when I die, don’t spend a lot on flowers, etc…
It was a difficult day for mother and daughter; the deed was done and the day dragged long.
The mom got up and went into her bedroom and called the daughter in after her. She presented her daughter with a ring, placing it in her hand and clasping her frail, weathered hand around her daughter’s, she spoke from her failing heart:
It’s yours now. It’s time for you to keep this. I remember when you were a little girl, no more than 5 or 6, you would sneak into our bedroom, open my jewelry box, and try this ring on when you thought no one was watching. You would put it on your index finger, and it was so big for your tiny finger. I was there watching. Mothers always watch and know what’s going on with their children. You loved this bauble then, and I hope you will remember this moment after I’m gone, because I want you to have this. It isn’t worth much, but I always cherish the memory of how you would tiptoe into our room just to try it on, careful to put it back where you found it. Wear it in good health, and may God bless you always for who you are, for the woman you have become, and for what you mean to me. I love you very much and I’m so proud of you.
The daughter was speechless and choked up all at once, trying very hard to be brave, but it didn’t work. She collapsed in front of her mother, knowing the message she was giving her: that she was dying and she had made peace with it.
This story is about my mother, Anne, who died not long after that day, and I was the little girl who adored the big, purple, shiny ring. I will always cherish the ring because of the story behind it, because mom gave it to me in person, and because of the special words that went with it. Mostly, it made me realize I carry her courage inside me; I hope one day I can pass that to my daughter (the ring and the courage).
I wear this ring any time I wear purple. Each time I slip it on my finger, I think of mom handing it to me and how it fits perfectly on my finger now.
©2014 The Estate Lady®
Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.
No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent. Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com