My grandmother, who turns 101 next month, has eight great-grandchildren and a ninth on the way. Her oldest great-grandchild is just seven years old, and most of the rest were born in the last two years. There is close to a century between her and all of her great-grandchildren, which makes my mind spin.
She chastised me for getting married so young (I was 27) and insisted I wait until I was at least 35 to start having children (which I did, and so did most of my cousins). She didn’t get married until she was 30, had finished college, held a job that paid all of her bills, and bought herself a full set of silver. I’m not sure why the silver was so important to her — it was extremely expensive back in the late ’20s and early ’30s — but the silver always plays an important role in her stories of her young, single life.
“It was Friday, so after I deposited my paycheck at the bank, I went and bought another spoon.”
Years before she moved out of her home and into a retirement community, she went through the house and put sticky notes with names on them on the backs of all of her treasured belongings. When people she cared about came to visit, she would ask them to review the notes and let her know if they were okay with the pieces she wanted them to have.
My dad’s name was on the back of a favorite painting and on the back of his old bedroom set. My aunt’s name was on the back of the sewing table. My uncle’s name was on the buffet. If someone wanted a particular piece, my grandmother would add the name to the back of the item. Surprisingly, there wasn’t any arguing since my grandmother could still have conversations about the pieces.
I’m sure this was a difficult process for my grandmother, but it made her transition into her retirement community an easy one. A few of the pieces are still in her space, complete with sticky notes attached to their backs.
Because of her planning, my grandmother has made things extremely easy for her family. I like to think of her example as I do similar things for mine. Granted, I’m not at the point where I’m putting sticky notes on the back of furniture, but I am updating my Will when necessary, keeping an “In case of emergency” folder with important details stocked inside, and staying out of debt so my loved ones won’t ever get shackled with my financial obligations. Being organized now will hopefully keep things simple when I’m very, very elderly and move into a retirement home at some point way in the future. Additionally, I want to make sure the intended person receives the set of silver my grandmother bought in her 20s and passed along to me …