Last weekend my husband, J, and I went off to Florida without the kids to help organize and pack up my grandmother’s home. Grandma passed away in July, but my family members are the proactive types so the place was already looking pretty clutter-free. Marie Kondo or her disciples had been there, and I started our visit grateful that we weren’t walking into a hoarding situation.
That said, there was still much to be done. We had to photograph everything, figure out what each family member wanted, pour over file and photo boxes, clear out the epic pantry (that was always stocked with Oreos, peanut butter, Dove chocolates and anything else that could make a grey day sugary sweet)—and most importantly make the tough decisions about the armadillo, the elephants, the hippos and the porcelain seal pup (who is still up for grabs if there are any seal pup fanatics out there).
J and I formulated a plan of attack (and as my sister pointed out—that’s one of our favorite activities!), but before we got started in tactical mode, I took some time to reflect over my morning coffee. I set a clear intention for the trip. Being home now a few days, I’m certain this is why I feel so good about our work and what we accomplished.
My intention: be a partner, a helper, a facilitator, bring the wit and be the person to truly be there for my aunt and uncle who took the lead in my grandma’s care for so long. I wanted to relieve the pressure. Clear the path. Create healing space for our entire family.
As we moved through the weekend and I questioned a decision or our next move, I used my intention as my filter. What would my next step be if I were a partner, a helper, a facilitator or brought the wit to this situation? My intention enabled me to move through whatever was holding me back in that moment. Sometimes the solution was to spend that extra time taking photos out of frames so that dozens of extra boxes did not turn up at a family member’s door. And sometimes it was perfectly placing the armadillo in a spot that would be met with surprise (maybe even shock and horror) upon receipt. Whatever it was—I felt I had a compass guiding me through a difficult task, that my north was a destination of pride at all we could do in a few days and our reward was hearing my aunt and uncle's laughter over dinner at my grandma’s favorite Jewish deli.
When I think about the weekend now, I smile remembering my sister and my aunts and uncles who will soon receive deliveries of 70 year old photos of my grandfather in uniform, the smart and love-sick letters he wrote to grandma dated one day apart, the Barbara Streisand anthology and of course the armadillo, stepping into the role of exclamation point for a plan well executed.
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