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Blog: Simplify Your Life
Appreciating Family While You Have Them

I have been thinking a lot about my mother this week. I officially became an orphan at the age of 38. My father died more than 10 years ago, and my mother just passed away two summers ago. I'm supposed to be a mature, responsible, highly-functioning adult -- but in many ways, I still feel like a lost motherless child, nonetheless.

All Alone In The World

My folks were in their 40's when they had me, so I always expected to outlive my parents. I knew on an intellectual level that I would spend a good portion of my adult life sans both mother and father -- but I never expected it to hit me so hard when I lost the last one. I've had other people in my life die -- my grandmother when I was in high school, numerous extended family members, and even a childhood friend who was felled by a brain aneurysm in her 20's. However, none of these experiences even began to prepare me for what it would feel like when my mother left me. Even my father's death (back when I was newly married and just starting out on a life of my own) didn't affect me like this. I was sad, remorseful about the time we could have spent together, and I still miss him to this day -- but our relationship was cut short before we had a chance to really become close as adults. I missed him as a parent, but she was both my mom and my friend. Of course, we went through the typical ups and downs in our relationship -- times when we drove each other crazy, times when we were especially close. But over the past six or seven years, we had settled into a comfortable and comforting place where we just really enjoyed each other's company. Smile

Matt and I visited as often as we could, we had her stay with us for weeks at a time, and we planned a number of "family trips" to places she'd always wanted to go. More importantly, I called her nearly every day of my life, telling her about my comings and goings, and hearing about the news from her side of the world. And when we were traveling, I might pick up the phone a dozen times a day, trying to include her in our adventures, letting her know of things she would have enjoyed if she had been there with us. My long distance relationship with her was closer than many of her relationships with family members who lived just a few miles away. And I talked to her more often than with some of my best friends. It was nice. It was reliable. And now it's gone.

One day in June two years ago, all that was taken away from me. Suddenly I didn't have someone to call 12 times a day, to tell about every little thing that we see and do in the world. I didn't have someone who will simply tell me that things will be okay, without feeling the need to offer advice. I didn't have someone who can answer questions about a dead relative or to help me remember something that happened to me when I was in grade school. It almost felt as though a part of me had been amputated -- the piece that contained my childhood is gone and lost forever. Sure, I have plenty of people who love me, a ton of offers from "surrogate moms," willing to step in whenever I need a hug -- but none who can really replace my mother. No one ever can. It's got me thinking a great deal about what life must be like when you are actually orphaned at an early age. I know that kind of thing has to be unbelievably traumatic, and must affect you for the rest of your life. But I'm certain that, had I lost my mother when I was 6 or 12 or even 18, I wouldn't be grieving the same way that I am now.

I wouldn't be missing the adult conversations and the appreciation that I developed for her insight later in life. I wouldn't be missing a whole and complete person. I would only be remembering the mom who read me stories when I was sick, or the mom who wouldn't let me stay out past 10 when everyone else was allowed to, or the mom who didn't get a chance to see me graduate from college. I am glad to have had at least a few grown-up years with my mother, even if it makes me miss her all the more now.

And the regrets are different. With my father, I regret that I didn't get to watch him enjoy his retirement after so many years of working hard and scrimping to make sure I had what I needed. I also regret all the things he never got to see me do with my life -- quitting my job to work for myself, becoming a full-time RVer, traveling year-round (he would have LOVED that!) And I'm grateful that I did get to share these things with my mother, that she got to live another different life vicariously through me. (I especially loved watching her become interested in photography after I started doing it professionally, always pointing out something interesting she thought I should take a picture of!) Most of all, I'm grateful that I was able to be with her at the end, to tell her how much she meant to me, how much I would miss her. My only real regret is that I didn't know how little time we had left, so that I could have spent more of it with her.

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posted on: 8/28/2012 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Simplify Your Life

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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