Amy’s mother passed away several months ago, and she traveled to the lower 48 for the services. The day after her mother’s services, Amy and her siblings met at her mother’s house to begin the arduous tasks of clearing out her mother’s belongings and preparing the house for liquidation. Each sibling was very surprised at how difficult it was to sort through their mother’s belongings and separate them into categories. Things that no one wanted went into one room to sell at an estate sale. Things that each of them could not part with went into another room. Although this phase of the task went fairly slowly, there was cooperation, and it seemed that they would be able to get through the task in time for the siblings to fly back to their respective homes.
The following morning as the siblings returned to their mother’s home to collect the mementos each had set aside, confusion and emotions began to surface. It seemed that more than one sibling wanted certain items, and each felt they deserved it due to their experiences shared with the item and their mother. The morning did not go well, and the brothers and sisters decided to go to a restaurant for lunch. Perhaps discussing the items in a different environment would relieve the tension between siblings and make the task less volatile. Lunch did not go as well as they had hoped.
It was decided that as time was exhausted, the siblings would return to their respective homes. They would then send a list of the items they would like to have, to a local relative who would separate the items accordingly, and ship them out as requested. If two or more children wanted the same item, that particular item would be placed in storage until each of the siblings had their undisputed items in their possession for three months. After the three-month period, the siblings who had not received all of the items they had requested were required to resubmit their requests.
Amy said that when the new lists of requests arrived, they were much shorter than before. It seemed that having the undisputed items had allowed the siblings to relax a bit and relinquish some of the items they had originally thought were essential. This made the second release of mementos very successful. Even with this success, however, there remained a few items that multiple siblings still thought they should possess rather than their siblings. As before, the siblings were required to wait an additional three months to request these last remaining items.
At the end of the second three-month period, the siblings were required to come together at their mother’s home and discuss their reasons for their claim on the last few items. It had previously been agreed that they would return to their mother's home at this time, to make the final preparations to engage a brokerage firm for listing the property. As each of the siblings gathered at their mother’s home, they found the last few items beautifully displayed on the kitchen island. In the middle of the items was a letter written to them by their sweet mother. She expressed her love for each of them, and her sorrow, as she had prepared for the final days of her life. She told them that she had tried to assign her life’s collection of mementos for them but had found that the memories were so precious, that she could not bring herself to accomplish the task. She asked her children to cooperate with each other and apologized for leaving them with a task that she knew would break their hearts, as deeply as it had broken her own. She asked them to realize that although each of them had lost their mother, she had lost each of her children. She reminded them and asked them to rely upon each other, to love each other and cooperate with each other, just as she had these past few years after she had lost their father. She reminded them that they were not alone, that they had each other to draw upon for comfort and love.
As the reader finished reading the letter aloud to the siblings, there was no fighting, no bickering, and no hard feelings over the precious mementos that sat on the island in their mother’s kitchen. Suddenly, the items were of little value compared to the sweet letter their mother had written expressing her unwavering dedication and love for each of her precious children. The last remaining items were disbursed with love and cooperation among the siblings. It seems their value paled in comparison to the expressions of their mother’s love and her concern for each of them within her letter.
Amy and her siblings agree that the mementos from their mother’s home are wonderful to have within their own homes. The item of greatest value, however, is the one that each of them has - a copy of the written expressions of their mother’s love as she prepared to leave them behind just before she died.
That memento is more priceless than rubies.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author, and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.