The last five and a half months has been a timeout from all of life’s other projects, apart from: work, essential (only) personal living maintenance, material purging, and schedules. Oh, throw in a huge dose of sibling co-ordination, along with communication system designs and operation! Here are a list of flag alerts for those of you, about to engage in some aging transitions, be it a change from the middle-age to senior citizenry, down-sizing the home front, community living reforms, or just plain old moving along the line to the eventual expiry date.
1) DO NOT WAIT… or put off to a more convenient time that family chat. What do you want to do and where do you want to be 5,10,15 + years from now? Is your medical curvature line in sync with your mental aspirations of longevity? You won’t have the energy to do it effectively, if you put it off 20, 30, or in our case 50 years. My family has learned this the hard way!
My generation is in their 50′s, and we are co-coordinating our efforts with a remaining parent, in her mid-eighties. Your mind can pick up and carry 17 boxes before your second coffee break, no sweat, but think again. That body isn’t 20 or 30 years old anymore!
2) Purge… Is there enough time to upload all the material stuff (you are willing to part with) on to Kijiji, Craig’s List, e-bay, etc.? When is the sentimental pile of stuff outweighing its value on a moving truck? My sister kept repeating the phrase, “$0.70 a pound”. Of course the moving cost was not that horrendous, in the long run, but we didn’t move inter provincially either. If a company isn’t picking up the cheque, for the move, you will be experiencing a lot of emotional drainage and decisions.
3) Do you have an idea of what is valuable? What are you are simply keeping as a material good, or as heritage, for future generations? What will suffice as a photo keepsake, instead of the real McCoy? Antique dealers can look at a pile of objects, and within moments, eye the good stuff. Do not let a timeline or deadline date put you on the wrong side of that equation. It lets the object go for a detrimental cost to you. If you haven’t given yourself the time you need to decide, then that antique dealer just made a mint at your expense. “I can take that off your hands if you don’t want it, or if you have no place to put it…” The phrases were similar, from different dealers, and all the verbiage is from the perspective of what they could do for you. Check out various antique stores to educate yourself on what someone may be willing to pay for similar goods.
4) Siblings, relatives, and friends. I did not realize that siblings could have so many different and diverse means of organizing, compartmentalizing, communicating, or assuming, etc. No question is a stupid question. If you need to ask the question a few times, do so.. and write it down. Who is doing what? What are the different strengths and weaknesses that each person brings to the table? Someone’s part may be considerably different, in time or energy, in the overall task of operations, but everyone has a role that is essential. If you take on a task .. do it.. or fess up mighty fast, so that the relay race is not jeopardized, on a timing note. It’s about learning that we all process differently, and reminding ourselves of the end goal. We learned that over things like: putting down the packing tape, or finding that the theme of a box’s contents has changed, based on the person packing the box. Different generations did not want to be overridden on task delegations or performances. It was better to allocate a task, like the garage to one person, and the outdoor gardening, or dining room packing, to another person. That way, at the end of the day, you saw more completed then what you exerted physically, and you didn’t need to edit nearly half of your asides!!!
5) LEAVE ENOUGH TIME to do all the above… we thought we left enough time to sort , pack, purge, etc., by starting in the spring. We knew we were looking at a fall date to move, if the goal was set to move before this winter. We were wrong.. we could have used a year and a half. More frazzled nerves would have been stepped on, perhaps, but we may have all had more inner peace that all decisions made were the right ones, and that we were going to live in peace with the results. In our case, this transition brought siblings and in-laws together, in co-operation with one another. We didn’t kill anyone in its process. The prime component (Mother) did not die, to spite the project – or any of us for that matter – bad backs, bad hearts, etc. Life insurance polices were threatened to be increased, occasionally, but we can now begin to put our feet up, and reassess if that is necessary. Our humour is still intact – black Irish or otherwise. None of us woke up one morning, to find we had died the night before!!!
There are so many facets to our culture’s mosaic of aging, and what it means to age in North American society today. Five and a half months has given me a lot to think about muse over…. possibly a first posting in a series.