When Your Parents Age and You Start to Fear

Estate SaleFive-minutes Friday – where we’re given a prompt and a whole gang writes about that word in five minutes. This week the word is fear—cutting right to the heart of my week.

Because yeah. I’m afraid. I’m not too proud to admit it.

It’s the second year in a row that I am spending my summer “vacation” cleaning out a parent home. Last year, I cleaned out my mom and dad’s home after they lived 57 years in the same house. They spent 59 years married—one living in his new Alzheimer’s world and the other caregiving. I wrote about that experience last year at about this same time of year.

This year, I’m spending my summer “vacation” clearing out my in-laws’ house. They lived 12 years in this house, and spent 54 years married. One of them passed away and the other has moved into an independent living facility.
Am I afraid of Alzheimer’s, caregiving, dying or moving into assisted living? I should probably say no, but that wouldn’t be completely truthful. But honestly, that’s not what I’m most afraid of this week.

I’ve been cleaning, packing, sorting and organizing until I drop exhausted at night. I’m going through “stuff” again. Stuff that signifies lives well-lived. Stuff that declares priorities and fun, budgets and extravagances, the secular and the spiritual. Stuff that triggers memories and giggles and a few hard swallows.

And I cannot help but pause…

What will my “stuff” show? Will my children clean out my house and giggle at the things mom hung onto all those years? Will my kids wonder why I kept something “worthless” and why I didn’t have much of monetary value? Will my offspring sigh with fondness over my quirks and remember with love the times we spent together? Will all my “stuff” show my true priorities?

And, in these quiet moments where I ponder my life and realize once again that my stuff merely becomes a souvenir. Its then, between sorting and organizing and going about the business of remembering, the fear creeps through and whispers—Will they miss me?

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  • Such an honest, transparent post. I imagine it is a very challenging experience to be engaged in, yet again, the task of clearing out the home of a parent, and wrestling with the fear(s) the process triggers. Grace to you in abundance. Visiting from FMF.

  • Thank you for this haunting and honest post. I believe they will miss you just as I miss my parents who died when I was a young child. (I even miss the people with whom I lived when I became an orphan though they were far from good to me.)

    There is never a good time to lose a parent, never a time when we just stop missing them. Clearing out the parental home makes all those memories fresh and glorious even if some of them aren’t pleasant. I’m so glad you are able to relive scenes from the lives of your parents and in-laws and have a feeling you’ll pass your experiences on to your children. God bless.

    Visiting from Five Minute Friday.
    Drusilla Barron recently posted…Fear – Five Minute FridayMy Profile

  • Joining your from FMF. I love your post. In my experience with going through the items of loved ones, so many families get angry and greedy. I hate that so much. I do like the thought of what my children will think of the things I kept and treasured. My oldest son and his friend were discussing the other day where they thought some of their preschool work and crafts were stored. I thought it was neat that it was even a thought for an almost 13 year old. I want them to know that I treasured my family and God above all other things. Thank you for sharing.
    Natasha recently posted…Five Minute Friday: FearMy Profile

  • Family deals with the stress of this situation in different ways, that’s for sure My husband and I both come from families of four and it has taught me a lot to observe how each person handles things. Like you, I have been thinking more and more on how or whether or not my family can see that I treasure God and family above all. Thanks for your comments, Natasha!
    Carol recently posted…What to Do When Fear Creeps in the DoorwayMy Profile

  • This is a beautiuful, open and truly honest post. I have often wondered the same thing! I collect my kids school work and cards they have made me, i also have their wrist bands and locks of hair in memory boxes up stairs…does this make me quirky probably! But I find beauty and importance in things that don’t cost, but mean the world to me ☺ thank you for the words x