Writing this post as I am sitting in the terminal of the Ft. Lauderdale airport en route to Philadelphia after an end-of-an-era experience of, as one friend referred to it “dismantling my parents’ lives”. My Dad died in 2008 and my Mom joined him this past November. Since that time, as the executor of her estate, I was tapped to handle her affairs which involved selling her car, her condo and a few other sundry and assorted details that I would have felt unprepared to handle 10 years ago. Can’t say that I have sailed through this, but with the help of angels (human and celestial), I am, as I shared with friends in a recent email, still “sane and vertical”. The closing date was scheduled and finalized this past week and I quickly gathered my wits and belongings and boarded a plane on Wednesday, cleaned and packed on Thursday with the essential and greatly appreciated assistance of my parents’ neighbors Dianne and Gary and their grandson Cody and went to closing today. WHEW..whirlwind wonder.
On Wednesday, I pulled my car into the self park lot at the Philly airport, coupon in hand, only to find that there were no spaces. I was directed to the valet lot instead. I told the attendant that I anticipated paying the same thing I would have for parking there, since they had let me into the original lot when there was no room to accomodate my car. He told me, “Of course.” Upgrade # 1.
Boarded the plane and took my window seat next to a 10-12 year old boy with a somber face. His father asked the man on the aisle seat if he would be willing to trade with him for the middle seat in the row ahead, so he could sit with his son. The man declined, so I offfered him my seat. Comfortably ensconced, a short while later, the man next to me offered me a piece of gum and we struck up a conversation about our lives and why we were heading to the Sunshine State. When I told him my story and particularly (for those who have been following the Bliss Blog for the past several months) the butterflies that have been showing up since my mother died, as tangible proof for me that life beyond death exists, since she told me she would come back as a butterfly:), he said that following his mother in-law’s accidental death, his wife and sister in-law got butterfly tattoos. Upgrade # 2, since chances are, the little boy would not have been talking with me about that stuff.
Arrived in steamy South Florida, go to the car rental counter and the woman said “I would like to give you a free upgrade, since we are out of the economy car you ordered.” Obviously stated Upgrade #3
On the way to the condo, I stopped at my mother’s favorite diner, called Lester’s where she and my Dad and their friends have spent many a Friday night pre-synagogue services. Her favorite waiter Jimmy; who she called her ‘boyfriend’ greeted me and seated me. I told him who my parents were and he smiled in recognition and served me with a smile and a consoling word about the reason for my presence in the restaurant at an hour that I would normally not be eating; but it had been an extremely looooong day without time for dinner. As I enjoyed the rivaling home-cooked meal, I mused about the significance of what I was there to do.
The next morning, my parents’ neighbor Dianne and I began what was to be a 10 hour event; packing, cleaning and preparing the condo to be sold today. It took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but she was seemingly tireless. Her grandson Cody helped tote the heavier stuff. The movers rapidly scurried on through and within a few hours, the furniture and boxes bearing 50 some years of memory were in the truck, on their way Northward. The new owner’s agent informed me that they expected that ALL of the furniture would be out prior to closing; not our original agreement, but required at the last minute. Taking a deep breath, I asked for Divine Intervention. At that point, I received a call from a hospice volunteer who was coming over anyway to pick up supplies that they had forgotten in November, as well as wheel chair, walker and quad cane that we were donating. I asked about interest in some of the furniture and wonder of wonders, he took some of the smaller pieces. As I walked out to his pickup truck, I noticed an item hanging from his rearview mirror…a butterfly, of course:)
Then our realtor said she had two strong young friends who would be willing (for a blessedly small fee:) to haul the bigger pieces to the curb where miraculously, the development was having a bulk pick up day, which really translated to neighbors doing some high class ‘dumpster diving’. By 10PM the entire condo was empty and I was alone with the vacuum cleaner and some wonderful memories, as I moved from room to room. I found one item while packing the kitchen that put a smile on my face. It was a Tupperware bowl with a spout that my parents would use to make pancakes. I could almost smell the sweet sizzling of the golden batter on the pan, imagining watching the bubbles on the surface; the indication, as I was instructed, that I could flip over the never quite perfectly round, but more like amoeba shaped goodies. I discovered more love notes that my Dad had written to my Mom; with a certainty that their passionately devoted relationship continued beyond death.
Upgrade #4 since I had the satisfaction of knowing that some of the stuff was going to families on hospice who might otherwise not be able to afford what my parents had. My father was the consummate pack rat, so I’m sure he was glad that what he had collected could be ‘recycled’.
Closing on the condo went smoothly, far easier than I had anticipated and an hour later, I found myself feeling lighter having taken care of one more detail. I thanked the realtors with whom I had bonded in the remarkably few months between listing and sale. A cosmic coincidence…one of the realtors is named Karma…we got a good laugh about that one.
While I was driving away for one last time from the home my parents had infused with 20 years of love and friendship, service and sweetness, I was escorted by a few brightly colored butterflies.
On my flight home, I found myself sitting next to a woman around my age whose journey to Florida involved her aged mother as well. We bonded over those issues, our children, our South Jersey heritage, being at the right place and right time and yoga. I always anticipate and have wonderful inflight conversations.
I looked up the definition of the word ‘upgrade’ and one was ‘to raise to a higher grade or standard’ and another was to ‘trade up’. As I release old, worn out ways of perceiving life and circumstances, I willing relinquish the hold they have on me and thus trade what I had for what I desire.