Last Friday Debbie and I went back to Dad’s house. On Saturday, me and his grandkids were going to sit down to begin sorting through some things–in particular, items he left for each of us. I stopped by to get some items from his safe deposit box that would need to be distributed according to his directions. Later on that day I begin looking around for some other things he bequeathed to certain ones. I confess that it felt like I was ransacking his treasures. Walking around and looking, it was difficult and painful. But by Saturday morning, everyone had a “pile” of items he wanted each of us to have.
Everything went very well–no family squabbles. But there were still a lot of items around the house. So I opened it up for everyone to go through and see if there was anything else they might want–especially pictures! Dear Lord, Mother and Dad loved pictures. The ladies found lots of things–and they had their own personal “swap shop” trading this for that. The boys and I went up to Dad’s workshop to look around–boys and their toys! Dad had a lot! We didn’t get through everything–but it was time to eat. And everyone knows you can’t make important decisions on an empty stomach!
They decided where we would go. Frankly, I was too emotionally spent to make another decision. As everyone was gathering up the items they could take with them, our niece, Christa Lynn, walked by me and said, “I feel like we are in an episode of American Pickers!” And what started out as a difficult and painful event turned into something good. There were 3 moments for me.
The first happened when I found an old letter, still in the original envelop from 1959. Dad had gone out of town for some reason–I concluded it must have been related to his work with his union. It was on the hotel stationary and it was about missing and loving his family. The second happened when I found their framed marriage certificate. And Dad had placed a small note in the upper left hand corner that said, “It happened around 10:00 a.m.” The third happened when Debbie noticed an old brief case in the top of a closet. We opened it and it was filled with what we call “clergy information” from all the funerals he had ever presided over. People and memories were important to him–and my personal burden finally let go of me.
And that trip down memory lane ended up being good for me–very good. And maybe you have some special and sacred places that you need to revisit. It may feel like it would be too painful–but feelings do pass. Where are those places for you? When was the last time you went there? When we arrived at Dad’s, I was focused on the pain. When we left to go back home, I was focused on the wonderful memories. It’s amazing and healing how God’s grace turns something painful into something healing–and replaces our tears with a smile on our face.