Two things are certain in life. The first is that everybody who has ever been born will eventually die. The second, or so say the historians, is that we will all eventually pay taxes. Hopefully we won’t be taxed to death though sometimes it feels that way.
This past month held some milestone events for me. The first was the birth of my ninth grandchild. Jaylee came into this world on September 18th. She is a beautiful little tike and spends most of her life sleeping as all newborns do, but according to her mother she has her days and nights mixed up, sleeping during the day and being awake at night.
The other milestone was the 100th birthday of one of my good friends, Vaughan Egan. Vaughan and I served on the Burley City Council for one term and during that time I was constantly amazed by the amount of energy Vaughan had, hardly slowing down to eat or sleep because there was just too much to do, or so he would tell me.
On a slightly sadder note, this past month also held the passing of several family friends. We all know that death will eventually take us onto the next adventure and when we lose someone at an advanced age it sometimes comes as a blessing. Such a death happened to the mother of another of my friends who had suffered with advanced Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She had been cared for in her own home for the last half a dozen years by family and a small group of caregivers whose job could not have been easy. Hearing of her death I was overheard telling my wife that it was more a blessing that she died than it was a tragedy.
Overhearing this comment, one of our staff though that my sentiment was insensitive, even rude, but she didn’t know of the hardships this family friend had endured in the final year of her life. If a person is suffering in life I hardly think it is wrong to be happy that the suffering has come to an end in their death.
I lost my father about thirty years ago. He was just 68 years old and should have had decades more life to experience, but it was not to be. Like my friend Vaughan, my father would have turned 100 this year had he not had complications from a heart attack. My mother passed away about seven years ago at the age of 87. Her mind was sharp up until the very end but the ravages that osteoporosis waged on her body eventually became her undoing. She fractured her spine while brushing her teeth of all things, and the ensuing pain and disfunction simply made her life too difficult to continue. She told us of her wishes to “move along” as we would come to refer to it, and she made it come to pass with the aid of hospice and a loving family.
One curse our family avoided was that of seeing their heirs argue and fight over the incidentals of their inheritance. Our parents had laid out comprehensive instructions of how their estate was to be divided up, leaving nothing to chance. Our mother opened her will with the caveat that if any of her children contested her wishes they were out of the will. Knowing this was in the instructions helped us work things out without dispute. If two of her ten children wanted the La-Z-Boy recliner we split a deck of cards and the high card got the chair. It was simple, practical, and final.
Unfortunately, some of our relatives on the other side of the family did not have things put together properly and a fight for the family assets ensued. It was sad to see brothers fight each other for a piece of a substantial estate. The oldest son passed away from a massive heart attack just eight months after his 95-year-old father passed. He was just 71 years old and was worth even more than his father. Rather than be content with the fortune he had built for himself he was doing everything in his power to get a bigger share from his father’s estate. Ultimately this fight became his undoing.
If there is a lesson to be learned it is this: Happiness comes not from the treasure amassed by the people in your life, but from the joy they add to your life. Where does your heart lie – in the people or their possessions?