Six years ago my mom passed away. My dad had been doing well since then on his 22 acre farm in Madison County, gradually turning over the mowing to a landscape company, leasing the front field to a neighbor for his cows, keeping the pool open and the place going for our family oyster roasts and pool parties where all five of the Ince families would gather with kids and grand kids, celebrating our good fortune and especially our father.
A simple stumble started the clock ticking. Broken ribs put Dad on oxygen. Team Ince went into motion, moving him downstairs, hovering to the point of pestering and scouting out retirement homes. Dad recovered fully but read the writing on the wall and began looking at his next step in earnest. The ball started rolling. 88 years of life needed to be reduced into a two bedroom apartment. Furniture, artwork and priceless trinkets had to be dispersed among five families, the house needed to be cleared and the farm needed to be sold.
We met each weekend at the farm, my sisters and I, beginning at the top, opening trunks with trepidation then sitting cross legged, facing each other, going through photos, laughing and crying equally as the fabric of our lives went into precious piles and trash bags. It has been a rich time for us, learning more about our parents and their history than we ever knew, refreshing childhood memories from the myriad of homes we lived in as a Navy family and realizing how strong a bond our parents instilled in each of us for the others, making the distribution of our family treasures a demonstration of love rather than division.
Ten weekends have passed and now the family farm, St Clair, stands empty, proud and clean, awaiting its new owner who has already stepped up. We’re “the kids” to Dad but now we have had a chance to take care of things for him and it has been a pleasure. His apartment at The Collonades is exquisite with his favorite things. His moniker, “The Admiral” gives him some well deserved status and pride and the process has been an affirmation that he and Mom brought “the kids” up right.
As our parent’s generation slips away it’s up to us to make the most of it. To celebrate well lived lives and to bring comfort and peace where we can. In the true world, that is our call now that our kids have flown and our elders can use our help. It’s our turn now, so let’s set a good example for our kids, for soon enough, it will be theirs.