Thursday, April 20, 2006


My wife and son and I spent the day yesterday packing my mother-in-law's belongings from her apartment in Toronto, moving them by rented truck to my warehouse in London, and pondering life's stages. It's off to a retirement home for my mother-in-law. All the belongings she won't need in her new home will have to sorted and vetted. A lot will have to be disposed off.

That is the story of our lives. When we leave our parents in our teens or twenties, we have little or nothing of our own. Then we accumulate things. Then we lose a bunch of stuff when we divorce. Then we start over and accumulate again. When we become too old to enjoy or need all the things we have accumulated, our kids have to figure out what to do with all the stuff. I went through the same exercise with my parents' belongings. My mother had had the good sense to get rid of a lot of stuff in the years before her death, so after my brother and sister and I took what we wanted, there wasn't much left to sell or give away.

My mother-in-law had been living in a Ukrainian home for seniors. There, she could come and go as she pleased. She could enjoy meals in the communal dining room but would otherwise be free to participate in organized activities or not, as she chose. In the new place, everything is done according to schedule, everything is monitored. No more freedom.

Old people can be interesting to observe. As we were moving things from the apartment to the truck, an elderly gentleman came up to me and told me that his wife had passed away three years ago, thank goodness. Yes, he really did say that. All she wanted to do, according to him, was to spend and spend and spend. He had a hard time keeping up financially, paying for her (from his point of view) frivolous expenditures, plus the mortgage on the family home and all the usual expenses we all have. Now he is free of that burden. That was the legacy his wife left: spendthrift and annoyance.

What will be our legacy?

Money and sex are the two big problems that men and women in relationships appear to disagree about. One partner's 'just right' is often another's 'too much' or 'too little.' At least the old guy I talked to didn't feel it necessary to tell me about his sex life with his departed wife.

Real life can be so much more interesting than fiction on the page or on the screen. Don't you think so?


  1. Absolutely, real is better.

    You make an interesting point about what we leave behind.

    And, you are right about the accumulation of items and the deconstruction of relationships.. I've accumulated and split three times and I'm starting all over.. but, I don't mind. It's not the furniture or the CDs for me. It's what I learned and how I came away a better person and if I left that person a better person for having known me. I'm happy that you wrote this post, because it reminded me to let go of the 'money/sex' issue a little more.

  2. There's an easy way around the money-sex issues in marriage, and that is to simply not get married.
    I'm intrigued about the flap we're having in America on whether or not to inflict it on the homosexuals, and I hope this bad idea goes away sometime soon. Most decisions to marry are made based on empty-headed-emotionalism and little to no logical thought to cloud the issue, ignoring the history of human slavery and "woman = doormat" mentality from which it decends.
    Too many things to go wrong and too few that can go right: I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of "successful" families I personally know of.

  3. The money/sex thing, Penny, is a very important part of any relationship in which to find balance. The problem is that balance is rare. Like galt-in-da-box, I know of few, very few, successful relationships. Partners take opposing poistions, dig in their heels, and won't move from them. There are some things that are important enough to insist on 'on principle.' Most things matter very little in the long run, and being inflexible simply guarantees a life of misery. Of course, any relationship which begins and continues as a (pardon this vulgarity) pissing contest is doomed from the start.

  4. Yes, good points.

    For me, the money issue is just that we pay our bills and live properly according to our income. The sex issue is that we have some and enjoy it properly according to our schedule. The problem arises in that we don't have much of either. I am not sure how things will pan out in the future.. but I'm not one for power struggles, either.