I have heard of families squabbling over possessions when a family member died. Perhaps family members are upset when there is a large estate and their expectations of inheriting something are dashed. It always makes me sad to hear of those cases and wonder what the deceased loved one would think if he heard the dispute.
Thankfully, that has not been the case when my parents or my husband’s parents passed away. The estates were small and there were not many things of monetary value but we each wanted some mementos of their lives.
When my husband’s grandmother died, I got a set of her dishes – incomplete, but I was thrilled to have them – and her button collection. When my own grandmother died, my father gave me a platter and serving bowl that matched the set I had received from my husband’s grandmother.
When my dad died, my sister (actually my stepsister but we claimed each other as sisters) and I had no issues at all. She wanted photo albums and a few items of her mother’s. I wanted some things that actually belonged to her side of the family if she didn’t want them. She graciously let me have the hand crocheted bedspreads her grandmother made and the few pieces of silverware that did not go with her set. I have my father’s typewriter and some other memorabilia. These remind me of times I saw each of them use those items.
When my father-in-law died, his four sons were very thoughtful. They were hesitant to speak up about something they might treasure for fear that someone else might want it. In the end, though, I think everyone came away with reminders of Mom and Pop they most wanted.
The important thing was that some of these belongings stayed in the family. At the estate sale, I especially hated the thought of my husband’s grandmother’s cedar wardrobe being sold, especially after learning it had been given to her on her wedding day in 1920. Having no place for it in my home, I still wanted to take it if no one else would. I was thrilled when my brother-in-law said he wanted it. I think his grandmother would be pleased.
Each of the items that were brought home from our parents’ house was not worth much to anyone except us. It was the reminder of time spent with a loved one or their contribution to our lives that gave the item such value.
I often look about and think of how I enjoy the good gifts of life. This includes many things: sunrise and sunset, moon and the stars, a butterfly, hummingbirds, a piece of furniture that is well made because God gave someone that creative gift, a painting done by a friend, things my husband purchased for me that make my life easier, gifts from my children and grandchildren that make my smile when I use them and many more.
Every gift ultimately comes from God. The things He gives contribute to our enjoyment of life, but they are mere representatives of His presence. I am well aware that I am not taking anything with me when I meet Him at the end of my life. The pleasure they bring me today is a reminder of Him – the Creator and Gift Giver of all.
O Lord, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions (Psalm 104:24 NAS). Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17 NET).