A mug and a spoon
This is my last Wednesday at work. Thank you, Susan. If you have been following my blogs you know that my sister passed away this past January. She was over 70 years old and worked every day practically up until the end. She missed work only when she was immediately out of surgery or had particularly bad days following a chemotherapy treatment. There were days she had chemo and then drove herself to work. This work ethic is to be admired . . . or is it?
Looking at my sister's life
I was with my sister the last month of her life. I flew out to California just a few hours after getting the news she had suffered a serious complication and might have — at most — just three days to live. She lived, from that point on, just a few more days than a month — first in the hospital, then in hospice. She never went home again. However, during that time, I stayed in her home, and learned about her life that she never really shared with family. She lived a full life with many friends. In her younger days she traveled and lived quite a few adventures. She was not married and had no children, but her network of loving friends was remarkable. They took her to doctor's appointments, slept outside her bedroom when she was sick from surgery and chemo, and were a part of her life until the end. There was nothing to regret in her social circle, however, I was made aware how many things she put off in her life — from redoing her kitchen to leaving her job and retiring. Yes, because she was "alone" we could think that her job was everything in her life — and indeed she loved it and they openly loved her — but we know that she wanted more, and that she never did it. When she passed away and we sold her condo and started amassing her various retirement accounts, savings accounts and other hidden accounts, my brother was so angry that she never took this money and did things for herself that would have made her so happy. In her mind there was always tomorrow, even when she knew there was no tomorrow.
Reevaluating my own life
My sister did not have many things — all costume jewelry and mostly things she took from my mother's apartment when my mother moved into a nursing home. I was going from California to Boston so I would not have the space to take any hidden treasures anyway, but I was struck at the lack of anything whimsical or valuable in her home. Furnishings and basic decor were lovely indeed, and there is something to be said for not having to fill 100 tables with knick-knacks at a potential yard sale! But I thought to myself that I would like just one remembrance from my sister. Well, every morning I had coffee using a certain mug and a special spoon (special because it is near impossible to find a tablespoon measure that is not part of a set — I always look and have never found one!), and I realized that those two items would be precious to me and so I wrapped them up and took them home in my suitcase. Every morning I use them and think of her and realize that my entire life is about to change because she never did anything for herself. I used to say "I'll retire when I'm dead." Not so much because of a work ethic but because I never had enough money to retire. Now I can say — at a rather young age (66) — "My last day of work is Friday."
Thank you, Susan
Thank you, Susan, for paying off your condo and your car and for putting away every penny into investments and retirement accounts. Thank you for thinking to share it all with your siblings. Thank you for allowing me to enjoy my life with my children, grandchildren, husband and friends. Thank you for the freedom to look at homes near the grandchildren — maybe even one on the beach! Thank you for allowing me to have Granny Keto. Thank you for my new life. Thank you for my mug and spoon, which will always remind me to enjoy life and not wait for tomorrow.