After years of caring for her aging parents, Plum and her three brothers are faced with the task of clearing and selling their family home. This story is chronicled in the book, “They Left Us Everything”, a memoir by Canadian author, Plum Johnson.
Clearing a family home is a familiar topic to Downsizing Diva. After all, that is what we do… help families downsize, organize and move. It is emotional work.
Plum’s story also hit home on a more personal note. Over the past few years, my three brothers and I have been caregivers for our parents and most recently have cleared and sold our family home.
It’s true you never really understand an experience until you have “walked in someone else’s shoes”. The downsizing and clearing process enabled Plum and her brothers to glean insights into the people her parents really were – something adult children often do not get to see.
Sorting through years of accumulated treasures can be overwhelming and time-consuming; taking additional time to reflect and discover is a luxury few families have.
The task can bring out the best and the worst in all of us.
The Divas have worked with family members who are barely speaking and others who delight in the laughter and joy of shared history and memories. We have met adult children who have been described as controlling, evil, lazy and, well the list goes on.
What we know for sure is that each person will react differently to grief and the challenges of moving on.
Someone observed that, as we age, we become more of who we have always been. Perhaps that is the reason siblings can be drawn closer together or torn apart after the death of their parents.
When the time comes to deal with sorting though the accumulated treasures that remain in your family home, try to set aside time to share memories and celebrate your family history. Be sure to make time for laughter, tears… and the occasional glass of wine or two.
Over the past few months, my brothers and I realized that our parents really did leave us everything — from family values to shared history and an incredible sense of humour that will continue to serve us well!
Of course, we miss our parents a lot, but our family ties remain strong. We have learned lessons, shared experiences, discovered more about our parents and have become friends in the process.
Here’s to family who are like friends and vice versa!