The media has jokingly referred to 2020 as the “roaring 20’s,” reminding us of the Charleston era of flappers and fun. As a grandmother, I am ready to “roar” at the approach of every year. At this age, each year is a gift to open and make special. We just have to choose our direction. Thinking about what is planned for the coming months and what we wish to accomplish gives a purpose to my life.
I have projects all around the house that haunt me. I concentrate on one, then get distracted, so finishing a project is a problem. Christmas 2020 is a deadline for some, which means I must get serious.
Handing down a bit of our family history, even though it is not historic to anyone else, is important to me. I have several memory books started, “Mom Remembers” and “Grandmother’s Memories,” and I am determined to place them in visible spots to remind me to complete a few pages each week. Adding to my children’s baby books, or making sure they are complete, is another project due by the year’s end because I want them under the tree for my children to enjoy.
Then the pictures! Where to start? That may be for another year, but I do want to fill the picture ornaments and hand them out at the beginning of December. I can start with the great grandchildren: Bradley, Jackson, Austin, and #4 due this month. Surely, assembling four ornaments is doable in twelve months.
Added to all the sentimental projects, however, are the serious issues age forces us to face. Organized people are a step ahead with wills, trusts, health directives, powers of attorneys, but all of us need to revisit our folders annually for updates to make the inevitable easier for those we love. Making sure the executor and other necessary people know the location of pertinent information, essential passwords, and important documents is obvious to the clear thinker. Death may not be a pleasant topic, but love means making that eventuality as stressless as possible, no matter how it affects us at the present moment.
Making sure they know our wishes beforehand should give those carrying out our directions some comfort with the responsibility. Set up a meeting and get it out of the way. Arrive with your list of what you intend to cover. If feasible, show them where everything is. Discuss your reasons for the decisions you have made. Allow questions.
Aside from the legal aspect of leaving our possessions to loved ones, most of us have personal items we wish to go to certain people: sentimental jewelry, family heirlooms, framed pictures. Verbally telling that person is not enough. Write your instructions down and add the list to the will folder. A grandfather told his teenage granddaughter that an old clock would be hers since she was the oldest grandchild. When the household items were later dispersed, the clock was claimed by another cousin. Not wishing to cause conflict, the rightful owner kept quiet.
In her 80s, my mother started having children and grandchildren who visited write their name on masking tape and affix it to the back of furniture they wanted. A maple corner cupboard my son chose now occupies space in his daughter’s bedroom to showcase her trophies and memorabilia. Mother wanted everything to be fair, so she wrote down what they chose then added items to balance the list. A nice stainless-steel flatware set joined his column. Mother’s wish was that her death be conflict free, and it was because of her thoughtful planning.
Paul and I have begun giving vintage gifts to accompany cash for birthdays and holidays. This past Christmas grandson Noah received a Navy desk set his papa had used. Sadie and Ainsley received items we used for our many tea parties on the deck or under the backyard tree: a tiny teapot with two cups and a tiny hobnail pitcher with two glasses. The items were not family heirlooms or expensive since the tea sets came from the thrift shop, but they recalled happy memories. All three grandchildren seemed genuinely pleased with the items, and we were able to experience the joy of giving.
Since I have too few years to make a dent in our house with vintage gifts, I need to start a list and delete items as we give them away, another project for this year. Retirement with advanced age is not a boring time. Life offers so much to fill each day. Look around and evaluate what needs to be done. Clean out the cupboards and cedar chest and assign your vintage items; write a note to your grandchildren to be opened at your death; have a small picture of you framed for each child and grandchild. Think of what you wish your grandmother had done and do it.