Rob Oxford: It's only "stuff"

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Lois and Roger on their wedding day
65 years ago
By Rob Oxford

I have mentioned before that I am admittedly a collector of things. But as a once dear friend suggested not so long ago, "it's only stuff", material items I can certainly live without. Although certainly true, what I'd rather not live without are the memories of how some of these things were acquired.

I recently traveled to Regina, Saskatchewan for my Aunt and Uncle's 65th wedding anniversary. 65 years, isn't that amazing? It was a very special celebration as I'd not seen some of the relatives in attendance for 40 years or more. 

My Aunt Lois, who is my Mother's older sister, has been everything I had hoped my Mother could have been. She has been a Grandmother to my children, an aunt, a friend, a mentor, a confidant, a role model and at times the mother I've not had for many years.

I've always admired her frankness, her strength, her honesty, her love for her family, her sense of humor and even her criticism. It has helped me become the man I am today. So I am indeed proud. Proud that my Aunt has been able to witness my growth from a lost 20 year old who didn't know how to face his own Mother's pending demise, into a nephew who is ready to bid her farewell if and when that time should come.

Health issues have prevented Gramma "Lolo" and Uncle "Raja" (Roger) from visiting the states for quite some time, so traveling to Regina was almost a necessity. The fact of the matter is, I'm not sure how many more chances I'll have to visit them, but I hope it is many.

Lois and Roger 65 years later
I mentioned my Aunt's frankness and at 89 years old, she has become quite frank and even jovial about her eventual demise. That too is something for which I admire her. When my Father was ill and living his last days at his home in Arizona, my Aunt and Uncle spent many months caring for him and tending to his estate. When he finally passed, knowing they were with him and that he was comfortable is something for which I will be eternally grateful.

Furthermore, they were extremely helpful in making sure my brothers and I received the things of my Father's that meant the most to each of us. Thankfully this dividing up of his material belongings was a very simple and respectful procedure, and everyone knows that is not always the case.

So it wasn't the least bit surprising when my Aunt began setting her beloved crystal on the the dining room table one afternoon. Pieces she had inherited, purchased and been given over the years. At first I wasn't sure what was taking place, but she was "crystal" clear about what she had wanted to do all along.

She then sat in her chair and started tearing little scraps of paper and writing numbers on them. These were then to be placed in a bowl and all who wanted to participate were instructed to choose one of the pieces of paper. I picked number 8. 

She then told her gathered family that in numerical order, we were to choose an item from her collection that we would like to take home. It seemed odd at first to be selecting these items while their owner was standing there smiling, still very much alive. But this very special lady explained that she wanted to know who was receiving these treasures and who would be enjoying them long after she had gone.

It was a very special moment indeed and when it was my turn, I chose two beautiful pieces that I thought my wife would enjoy and two beautiful pieces that will always remind me of my "Auntie" Lois and what a fantastic family I was fortunate to have been a part of for so many years.

My reasons for writing this particular article are twofold. First to selfishly pay tribute to a woman who has made a lasting impression on this writer's life and secondly, to share with anyone facing the eventual passing of a loved one, a better way to negotiate the sometimes difficult task of dividing cherished possessions.

After all, "it's only stuff".


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