Holding on vs. letting go

My dad died four years ago. In the months following, my sisters and I helped my mom sort through, throw out, and donate the majority of his belongings. We sold his car and beloved boat. We went through files, paperwork and financial records.

After a year the so-called tasks were completed. Except one – guiding my mom through the prospect of a life without my Dad. So, as always we dove in head first attempting to create a life for my mom. Dinner at our houses, school activities with our kids, and endless hours of phone calls. I helped re-organize her house. I really thought we had this one nailed.

As an organizer I can create physical buckets for toys, clothes and “stuff”, but the emotional buckets are a much harder nut to crack. Life has a funny way of teaching me that lesson over and over. Instead of experiencing my mom branching out in her new life, she clung to us like a toddler trying to walk for the first time.

This summer my mom fell in her hallway during our infamous post Irene blackout. Again, my sisters and I rallied to organize a solution for her life going forward. But without fail life answered back. Instead my aunt introduced my mom to a wonderful lady who would come to live with my mom. She would help her with her post hospital needs, or that’s what we thought. Instead, she has become my mom’s friend, companion and lifesaver.

It’s ironic.  All of our pushing, controlling and forcing did little to change my mom’s circumstance. It was letting go that moved the dial. The same holds true of our physical stuff.  We can hold tightly, force solutions, and accumulate clutter. But the end it is the letting go, moving on and de-cluttering that makes us opened to life’s biggest lessons.

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