Those words from the song “Dust in the Wind” (1977) sung by the rock group Kansas are roughly based on some verses from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 1: 12-14 says (NIV) I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. (12) I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! (13) I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (14) Some scholars have supposed that Solomon, a son of David wrote this but other scholars believe it was someone else.
My Mom went to be with the Lord just over three years ago. My Dad has remained in their home in North Alabama since that time but there have been times when it was almost emergent that one of us kids make the multi-hour trip with a bag packed for a few nights to help him through some various health issues. I’ve had some hard conversations with clients when you start thinking about the “what ifs” and you have no crystal ball. I have always hoped and prayed that my parents, if need be could make their own decisions about their care and where they want to live until their end days.
Sure, in the last couple of years I have hoped that Dad would make alternate plans because a round trip to and from his home runs close to five hours and of course doesn’t count the time there should he require doctor visits, emergency room visit or even a few nights in the hospital. We are blessed that my two other siblings ended up here in town so any moderately serious time that Dad has spent here has been a tag team effort and allowed us to have minimal time away from our vocational responsibilities while making sure he was receiving good care.
Several months ago he began to consider a move here and recently took the move into an apartment for seniors. A downsize in his hometown could have still been difficult from any necessary drive to check on him. So a move from a nice sized home with basement into an apartment requires a lot of downsizing, not just consideration of which furniture to move and which to leave but just the going through the stuff that has accumulated has been a huge ordeal with several trips up.
You think about couples that were rearing their children from the late 1950s to the mid 1980s and what they might have in their home when hosting their bridge club, or hosting holiday family dinners, house and yard maintenance tools, photographs, pictures of various types on the walls and those items you inherit from other family members. Not to include furniture in multiple bedrooms, the living room, the dining room, den and other areas. I went up recently with my Dad and sister for a final prep before the house goes on the market. My sister was pulling out each drawer and opening each closet and we looked in each one. We had to figure out what to keep and what to toss. The guest books used at the funerals of my grandparents were no longer relevant and there were countless other pieces of paper with no relevance and to the trash they went. We found many old photographs of long deceased family members, many I knew but some I did not.
I have helped my parents when we cleaned out the homes of my grand-parents and my uncle but this was more personal. This was the home I moved into the day after I finished seventh grade. A LOT OF MEMORIES! It’s an end of a part of my life even though I left it in 1977; things that were pretty much always there will now be gone. Things that meant something to my parents when they so carefully picked them out or retained many of these things as a memory were tossed out or will be available to strangers looking for a bargain at an estate sale. I brought some large framed pictures home of some relatives that will not fit in my home but I could not stand the thought of these ending up in an antique store. Two of them were of my great grandparents, which I knew my great grandmother and one is a baby portrait of my grandfather. Here I was going through their remaining “stuff” and I realized that stuff and memories were what their lives boiled down to. One day my family will toss those things that I thought were important to me.
These are the things you have to consider coupled with how to legally appoint those to assist you in infirmity or where your “stuff” will go without having transfer issues after your death.
Aside from the memories that the living retain and the stories told to their families the only really important thing that remains is the soul of the deceased and if that person asked the only Son of God into their heart then that soul will be with God forever. That is the only hope we have in life and death. Otherwise, we are just dust in the wind.
This article is informative only and not meant to be all inclusive. Additionally this article does not serve as legal advice to the reader and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. The reader should seek counsel from their attorney should any questions exist.
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