Today I did some work cleaning up my grandmother’s apartment. She passed away in January. She had an amazing life, living almost to 100 and remaining in her own apartment to the very end. It was a good life for her, I think.
Cleaning up the apartment was bittersweet. Because she kept such an orderly home and because she kept to a tight routine in her later years, her apartment looked as if she had just stepped out to run an errand, except only for the plants, which hadn’t been watered in three weeks. I tried my best to revive the seven African violets, which lined the window in her study.
Mainly I looked for keys, threw away dead plants and food from the freezer, and visited with my memories as I dusted and opened drawers. As hard as it is to visit a loved one’s home after the owner is gone, there is a ready barrage of reminders of what we shared.
What really struck me, though, were the conversations I had with the manager and superintendent of my grandmother’s apartment building. When I thanked them for all they had done to help my grandmother continue to live in their building at the end of her life, they both told me how much they loved her and how difficult it was to have her gone.
That is the great lesson from today, and the abiding joy: there are kind people in this world, and they will go out of their way to help you do what you couldn’t do on your own. Love is quite a legacy.