Now’s the time to put your house in order

Two rules I learned from my mother: 1). Never go on a vacation without your house in perfect order. Just in case you don’t come back.
And 2). Never go away in the car without dressing up. Just in case you have an accident and have to be taken to the hospital.
She obeyed those rules all her life, especially the first rule. That’s why it was so easy to go into her apartment after she was gone for good. She had left her house and her life in perfect order.
A place for everything and everything in its place. Everything labelled and boxed. And written instructions on how to dispose of the smallest items.
All the papers, diaries, and letters she didn’t want other people to read had been thrown away and only the important ones were kept.
She was a very private person and it wasn’t an accident that there were no surprises. She knew all along that one day other people would sort through her life, and she knew exactly what she wanted them to find.
You can find out a lot about people by the items with which they surround themselves.
Dishes were always important to my mother. She made wonderful meals for the family on the holidays—Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas—and on family birthdays.
Among her things was a little notebook assigning her best dishes to her daughter and daughter-in-law and to her grandchildren by name.
My father’s Bible was her favorite book—because of the content and because it belonged to her beloved Nick. The day my father died, she wrote a simple entry in her diary, “I lost my best friend today,” followed by many days of silence.
She enjoyed her new colour television set and stereo during the long winter evenings alone. They were designated for her two grandsons.
My mother had made and sold more than 400 Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. The inventory on hand was to be divided among her grandchildren equally.
Thus, as we sorted through and divided her possessions, we knew what was important to our mother and grandmother. She had a wonderful, well-ordered life.
My mother’s rule is a good one to live by. But the real reason to keep your house in order is because you live there on a daily basis. Most of us drag along too much stuff through our life journey—things that destroy the quality of the trip.
“Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life” by Richard Leider and David Shapiro asserts that people could be much happier if they would answer two questions: “How much is enough?” and “What do I really want to carry?”
“Don’t just survive the trip, live it! Enjoy the experience along the way,” say Leider and Shapiro.
How about you? Why not take a long, hard look at what you value in life and remember that one day, other people will sort through your “stuff.” What will your closets tell them about you? And more important, how does all that stuff enhance or detract from your daily life?
Is the load you are carrying just right for the trip or could it use some adjustments?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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