You Definitely Won’t Take it With You


My mother-in-law moved into our house after her cancer diagnosis. I was grateful for the opportunity to serve her and love her and let the kids enjoy her. She was grateful for the company. We moved everything into the large family room off the kitchen where she had privacy, but we were all easily accessible when she needed us.

I grew to love her all the more as we enjoyed her last six months together. Many lessons came, including this particularly poignant observation. I was going through her stuff, helping her find something she wanted. Her drawers were full of her stuff — papers thirty years old, clothes just as old. I suggested we get rid of some of it that she didn’t want anymore. No, she wanted nothing to do with that. Are you sure? Yes, she said. I was still rifling through the top drawer and she finally said, cheerfully, “If you want to get rid of stuff, get rid of your own stuff!” Fair enough, I thought and we moved onto other topics.

Two days later, she died. (Yes, I know… if I’d known it would be two days, I would not have talked about the stuff.) That week, we went through all her papers, trinkets, stuff she had not looked at in ten to twenty years. None of it had any meaning to anyone anymore. All this stuff that was indispensable days before was no going out the door.

Life is short. It is definitely not about stuff. That experience has encouraged me to lift my eyes, see life around me, and wade out of my stuff. I wish that for you as well.

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