As a young man I had the great privilege of caring for an aunt, my fathers’ sister, who lived in Miami. It was a privilege as she was one of the sweetest women I ever knew. Aunt Ruth had experienced incredible adversity early in her life when within six months she saw three deaths within her immediate family. First, her father passed away. Shortly thereafter, her only child, a 21-year-old daughter, a nursing student developed a brain tumor and passed. This tragedy was then followed by the death of her husband, a World War II vet, from lung cancer. Within six months she had lost three of the closest people in her life.
Later she seemed to find a great deal of comfort in her spirituality. She loved working in her yard, where she had various fruit trees and flowers. Later, she traveled with some of her friends. During one of her trips she and her friends visited Central America. There she acquired a hand-carved mahogany buffet that served as a prized possession in her home.
I looked after her while living in Miami. I was like her son. It was my privilege to take care of this wonderful woman. But when she needed things, she needed them immediately. She would call, and I would respond. “Armand, I need this tree trimmed …Armand, the car needs tires, Armand…” Later, when I was married, my wife also got onboard and often would take her shopping.
She cooked wonderful meals in her home where we were often recipients of some wonderful culinary delights. It was a warm family relationship that extended over 25 years.
The only thing I ever wanted from her home upon her passing was that mahogany buffet. This magnificent, hand-carved piece of furniture that would have blend beautifully into our South Florida decor. Upon her death, another relative who lived over a thousand miles away, came in with a truck and took everything, including the mahogany buffet.
At that time, I mentioned to my father that just wasn’t fair. I was the primary caregiver. I looked after her for 25 years like a son. The only thing I wanted was that piece of furniture. This just wasn’t fair that he took it. And, I had promised my wife, “That was ours.”
My father was part of that greatest generation, those that had lived through the great American depression only to be followed by WWII. He was in his early 80s when my aunt died. He was remarkably successful in life and while we never had a lot of money my father was an exceptionally revered man in the community. As we sat at his kitchen table, he wearing one of his often present flannel shirts, his profound wisdom was imparted that altered my life when he uttered these great words of understanding: “Just let it go… Just let it go”
“We all know, dad, that’s not fair. That was ours.”
“Just let it go. The most important things in life are not things.”
Now, many years later, I am approaching my father’s age. His words still resonate in my head. My wife and I live in a huge home, filled with “things.” We are now trying to downsize and live a more efficient lifestyle. As I’m trying to get rid of “things”, my father’s words ring true to me.
A depth of greater values is achieved through wisdom and life experiences. So often, even now, I only wish I could seek my Father’s advice on matters. How interesting, as I grew older…my Father got smarter.