Getting the house in order

Posted: June 2, 2008 in Commentary, Our Health

Less than 24 hours ago my neighbors just returned from a long road trip from half way across the country burring mom. Her life came to a sudden end at the age of 57 over a heart attack. If you ask me that is way too young as that age is still quite a few exits away from just entering into the twilight years. While talking with the wife, she told me about how challenging it was for her and the whole family to track down all of her financial affairs and how she may have to travel back to help the rest of the family to make some sense of years of financial records.

Not too many years ago I remember being in the same situation when we received word that my mother-in-law passed away. If my memory serves me correctly, she was in her very early 60’s. She died just a couple of years after her husband died of cancer leaving me, my wife, her brother and sister-in-law left to completely deal with the affairs of two individuals. So unlike my neighbors who spent about a week dealing with the affairs and preparing for a funeral, it was our task to do all the above PLUS completely gut a now vacant house, hire contractors to make repairs/improvements, do some minor electrical work, put the house on the market and pray that it sold quickly. This whole process required us to literally “move” from our apartment in Atlanta at the time to live in New Jersey for about 3 months from the time we received the call about her passing.

Both my mother and father-in-law had a very interesting relationship when it came down to money. All throughout their marriage she would hide sums of money all throughout the house. With her now gone, this made it even more difficult for us when we were throwing things away. Old books and magazines had to be thoroughly inspected before they were tossed in the dumpster we rented (she was a librarian). Finding things like large bills, checks, bonds etc. was not unusual to find. I think that we also came across a deed to some property one of them inherited many years ago.

Needless to say that this whole process caused all of us to make some changes as it relates to getting our house in order. Even my mom was provoked to get rid of a lot of junk in her house and place all important documents in a safe.

Fast forward back to yesterday, being provoked by the early passing of his mother-in-law, my neighbor suggested that perhaps we could all do a morning walk together around our neighborhood. Both he and I do exercise, but not as consistently as we should. Our wives are in the same boat.

While my family may not be A+ when it comes to diet, we do eat way better than when we lived back east. Foods like fried chicken, fried fish, baked mac and cheese and other staples found in most Black families for us are only enjoyed during Thanksgiving or Christmas. Over the next few days we are going to share with them the little that we know in regards to healthy cooking.

While the death of our dear loved ones is always a hard thing to deal with, I think that it can be a mixed blessing for us who are still here in the land of the living. If it is going to provoke us to do what we need to do to get our house and bodies in order now, then our deceased loved ones have given us a great gift from beyond their graves.

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