In her last two years, my mother was plagued with increasing poor health and dementia.
Her move from living in her own house to a quasi-nursing home was swift and dramatic. I bundled her home with me on Christmas Day so I could help her get over a flu bug and by New Year’s Eve she was sipping “champagne” at Victoria Place retirement home.
We whittled her many possessions down to what was most precious to her. We filled her one new room with books, photo albums, vases, some paintings, a chair and a large cabinet. I also stashed many of her endless crafting supplies in the nursing home’s rec room, but my mother never touched them again.
Everything else, including her house and car, was given to family members or charity or sold.
A month before my mother died, I had a birthday party for her and invited all her friends. I brought her mother’s vase to the nursing home and filled it with lilacs. My mother could no longer recognize some of the people at the party, but she exclaimed over the vase and was lost in memories of her mother, of lilacs, of birthdays past, of the vase and of bringing it to Canada.
In her last week, my mother was taken by ambulance to the hospital. The only possession she ever expressed any concern for was her false teeth. Where were they? Could she have them in?
Eventually she slipped into a coma and her teeth were taken out. It was just my mom then – naked under a sheet in a mercilessly sunny hospital room with her family and her dearest friend at her side.
That’s what your life comes down to. You. Your experiences. And the people you love.
Time. Valuable because it’s irreplaceable. The time that’s gone is gone. You can’t grow or earn more. You don’t even know how much you get in a lifetime. I recommend investing the time you do have for the greatest return.
Know how long it takes to do things. Does MapQuest say your morning commute is only 15 minutes but in fact it’s 30 because you’re always stuck in traffic? How long does it take you to complete household chores? Can you really pack for vacation in 10 minutes? Once you know what the demands on your time are, you can organize and prepare.
Get organized. Know your priorities and what’s most important to you. Develop a system for keeping your home and work life running smoothly. There are a million formal and informal organizing systems out there. I use Franklin Covey and, for longer or more complicated tasks, determine the critical path. Find something that works for you. You’ll save yourself a fortune in time and lost opportunities.
Plan and prepare. Know what you’re going to be doing and where you’ll be in a day. Remember Home Ec. class? The teacher taught us to read the whole recipe first before doing anything. Make sure you have the ingredients and equipment you need. Know what steps you’ll need to follow and what to do first and how much time the whole cooking process should take. Do the same with the recipe for your day.
I’ve been teased because I have my lunch prepared and my outfit ready for the next day. People say things like “Must be nice. I’m just too crazy busy to do that.” Is that so? Those tasks have to get done. I can either do them the night before or in a mounting, messy frenzy the next morning. I know which I prefer and consider the night-before prep as a sound investment of my time and a set up for my own success. And who can argue with success?