According to Wikipedia, an antique is an old collectible item. It is usually collected or desirable because of its age, beauty, rarity, and/or personal emotional connection. It is an object that represents a previous era or time period. Throw aways are items no longer wanted and/or serve no purpose. Throw aways pack our landfills; antiques adorn our mantels.
During the past 3 days, my sisters and I have helped our aunt sort and sift through all her earthly belongings. A decision was needed for every single item. Antique or throw away? Preserve or pitch? Treasure or trash? A mahogany drop-leaf table from our great-grandmother’s home. Antique. Packs of old playing cards. Throw aways. A small wooden chair from the church where our aunt went to Sunday School 80+ years ago. Antique. Broken baskets. Throw aways.
So our days went. Sorting through everything; deciding what to keep and what to throw away. Goats on one side; sheep on the other. We invaded the assisted-living facility ready to work. We were armed with trash bags, all shapes and sizes of storage containers, and every cleaning product known to mankind. We were on a mission and we had 3 days to complete our task. Veni, Vidi, Vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered.)
Due to economic reasons, we needed to move our aunt from her small assisted-living room into a smaller room that she would be sharing with a roommate. From old room 49 to new room 39. Just a few doors down the hall but it was like moving to a new town. Change, at any age, is a challenge and an adjustment. For these ladies, change has turned their world upside down. What was familiar is now unfamiliar. Towels must go on this shelf. Snacks must go in that drawer. There is confusion, repetition, and speaking loudly to be heard.
These two very different elderly ladies are grappling with all sorts of emotions as they work through what their lives look like now. One likes to stay up late at night watching TV; the other goes to bed at 7 pm. One is social; the other is more of a loner. One is a messy; the other is a cleanie. Both families are unsure how this odd couple will navigate this arrangement once we pack up our supplies and leave town.
Felix Unger: What do you dream about?
Oscar Madison: Living alone. ~ The Odd Couple
We fall into our rhythm. Antiques will be handled gently and passed onto the next generation. Large black trash bags will be needed for the throw aways. Just open the bags and toss; memories included. No time to dillydally. Those packs of playing cards deemed as “throw away” are tossed into a trash bag along with the memories of our aunt’s card-playing days. She and her girlfriends used to meet on Saturday nights to play cards; eating and laughing through the night. Lots of girlfriend time to chit chat and gossip. The trash bags bulge with throw aways and fond memories. More for the landfills.
As we cleaned, sorted and moved items up and down the hallway, we met some of the residents in the facility. Has life, society, or their absent families cemented their destiny? Are they antiques or throw aways? Some bravely served our great country, but now they are unsure of their name. Antique or throw away? Some were professionals who worked faithfully in our schools, hospitals, and government offices, but now they gather at meal time with their walkers, wheelchairs and bibs. Antique or throw away?
John, a former security guard, meanders up and down the hallways checking all the doors; closing some that are open. He is doing what he was trained to do for so many years: checking and securing the doors. John can’t communicate well and has to wear an adult diaper, so does that make him an antique or a throw away?
I know how God views John. His loving words are comforting.
Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)
Our moving days come to an end. Both ladies have transitioned into their new shared space. There are tears, hugs, promises of visits and reminders of “everything will be OK”. There is a final review of how to turn the TV on and off. We leave with a few antiques wrapped-well in old blankets. We toss the trash bags in the facility’s dumpster.
Back home, I will check my doors and make sure they are locked and secured before bedtime, just liked John taught me.
Let’s Walk Worthy!