One Senior’s Share
I’m a senior citizen and I love it! I let my hair go white; not realizing that doing so has its perks! Doors get held open for me, seats in waiting rooms are relinquished, and I get discounts on my movie tickets, restaurant meals, services at beauty salons, goods in stores.
I am fortunate to enjoy good health, and have a great quality of life. I live simply. My home is small, and possessions few. I like it that way, because I am more interested in experiences than things. I have loving family and friends.
Mostly, what gives me great peace is something I did recently that I’ve known for a long time needed to be done.
I share with you what happened:
I was in my forties and fifties, and made my living as a door-to-door sales person. For twenty-five years, I prospected door-to-door as a Realtor, looking for people in need of my services. After my career in real estate, I pursued my passion as an artist. I prospected galleries door-to-door and got my art exhibited and sold. I knocked on doors in the very same neighborhoods I frequented as a Realtor, and not only promoted my art, but also sold my art note cards door-to-door. I made a good living this way ten years.
During my 35 year period of meeting people at their front door, every once in awhile I’d meet someone in their fifties or sixties who seemed overwhelmed, sad, and angry all at the same time. They looked rung out emotionally and like they needed someone to. They would invite me in.
What I saw in the house, was abundance. I was taken on a tour.
There was a grand measure of everything; beautiful furniture, fine art, heirloom china, crystal, silverware in velvet cases, statues, books, jewelry, and treasures galore. Then after a bit of conversation, I’d be taken on a tour through the home. Every room had a lot of stuff in it. Many times it was a lot of clutter. Sometimes it almost bordered on hoarding.
Then I’d be informed that this was not their home. It belonged to their parents who recently deceased, or were incapacitated and living in a place where they could get the care and supervision they needed. They were charged, involuntarily, with the responsibility of getting rid of everything. Some of the people I met had been at this horrendous chore for over a year.
I ran into situations like this at least once or twice a year. Over the years I vowed I would live so my possessions would be organized enough that within a few weeks everything I owned could be relocated. I am a senior with four adult children. I was in my early twenties when I had my kid. As I said, I’m in excellent health, plus I have a passion for living. Chances are my offspring will be in their 70’s when I pass. That’s too old for them to have to deal with an estate.
My earthly possessions down to a minimum. More importantly, my will is up to date, my finances are in order, I have no debt, and all files and papers are organized. I doubt it would take even a week to get rid of everything. My conscience is clean. I want my children to remember me for lots of things, but most importantly that I was considerate enough to not leave a burden for them to deal with.
Also, until now I didn’t realize that besides a clear conscience, I have the additional benefit of protecting my privacy!
I have seen articles in the news and blogs about this subject. Evidently, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. I think I know why:
- For one thing, emotionally, it’s uncomfortable to accept your mortality. None of us wants to die. It’s hard to come to grips with it. Getting rid of stuff so your relatives don’t have to is sobering.
- Second, if people are not in good health, they may not be able to organize their stuff and affairs. Some people are wise enough to reaIize that possibility. They therefore plan well. Years before they get old, they have annual “heir” meetings with their kids. Everyone decides on what they want, which are given to them before their parents’ demise. Or, it is labeled so it can still be used by the current owners, and then given to named heir.
- Third, the mass of stuff, along with the reality of mortality, can be so overwhelming, they are just not able to deal with it. Or, they may not be mentally clear enough. Then, relatives and professionals can help.
I have a friend whose husband died a couple of years ago and left her with a huge house full of antiques, art, silver, and a fortune in collections. She’s 72, and wants more than anything to buy an RV and travel. She feels trapped. She is wasting the precious years of her life procrastinating. Perhaps she hasn’t come to grips yet with her loss. However, professionals estate managers can be hired to manage the disposal of an entire estate like hers. They have appraisers come in, and expedite the sales of everything quickly and efficiently. She could get a nice fat check and be on her way.
The most precious resource any of us have is time. We can never recoup time.
Choose carefully, dear reader. No matter what your age, keep your things organized so that those who come after you don’t have their most precious resource, time used on a responsibility they don’t deserve. Even if they inherit millions from you, you can’t give them back the time they would have to spend to take ownership of the inheritance.