I posted in passing last month that my Nana moved to Heaven. On June 13th she slipped peacefully in her sleep surrounded by her children. Her children who I later found out had been holding hands and were singing to her at the time. What a testament to Lillie Beth and the magical love she freely gave to all. God was alive in both of my grands~ joyful, strong~ and I selfishly miss them so very very much.
I looked at the phone as it whistled, seeing "mom" on the caller ID, knowing what words were coming. What I didn't expect was the sound of her voice. My 67 year old mother's tone was that of a 5 year old as she said "My mama's gone." The tears came immediately. Not for the broken heart I had prepared myself for, but instead for hers. For the grown up little girl on the other end of the phone who had just become an orphan. There is no empathy strong enough to affect that.
In the following weeks I watched her with her sisters and brother begin the necessary process of closing that chapter in their lives. All but my mom live out of state, so they came and stayed here with me...at the house they grew up in, the house we all grew up in. Room by room they collected tangible reminders of memories, belongings that Nana had specifically assigned to go to each of them. I have heard horror stories of families falling apart over stuff or money after someone passes, but as I watched them from the shadows I was overwhelmed by the compassion and selflessness and love they showed one another. I have never been so honored to be a part of something as I am to have been blessed with this family.
It was the last time any of them would be together in this house, and I couldn't find a way to be present as over several days one by one they said goodbye in the living room that hosted our Christmases, Thanksgivings, reunions, lives. I can't even imagine what they must have felt, and I could do nothing to help.
Which brings me to the point of this post. I was asked if I would be willing to handle the disposition of the remaining physical estate. It wasn't really a question I could say no to, because were I to be unwilling meant one of them would have to do it. And as emotionally overwhelmed as I feel right now, I can not imagine how much more difficult it would have been for them.
If you've never handled the preparation for an estate sale, especially that for a loved one, it is not something you should undertake without first understanding that it will rip your heart out and stomp all over it several times a day. But it is also the last gift you can give to a loved one who has departed this life. With every dish I wash I can picture it on the table filled with an awesome southern cooked something. Like the syrup dispenser that held my grands' homemade blueberry syrup that my brother and I used when we had our pancake eating contest 36 years ago. This is all taking some time, eating away my days and both breaking and filling my heart, but every minute spent comes back to the love, to my Nana and my Granddaddy, to my mom, brothers, aunts and uncles and cousins and life. I feel honored to be doing this one last thing~ to be closing this chapter in my own life with the care and attention it so richly deserves.
There's a mess, y'all, and even my lil bit of OCD wants to kick me in the shin. Hard.
I have a week and a half to finish, and I will because that's what I do. Maybe I was the right one for the job after all.