As my siblings and I checked out the room in assisted living, we talked about the various pieces of furniture that best fit the space. We wanted to bring Mom’s furniture and accessories that would help her feel most comfortable in her new surroundings.
- Family pictures—of course, artfully displayed on the corner cabinet that belonged to her aunt.
- A small dresser, big enough to store her clothes and still become a TV stand.
- The daybed from Mom’s guest room with her favorite quilt to keep her warm and provide extra color.
- An antique lamp I gave her with a crystal shade that reflects the prisms of light.
- Her recliner and her favorite glider.
- Some plants, maybe.
- Although her room includes a small kitchenette, we want her to eat the nutritious food in the dining room. So her dishes will remain at the house and later, much later, we’ll decide what to do with them.
One day as I poured out my heart to God about Mom’s situation, I looked around my own house. What would I choose to live with if I had only one room? Besides the basics of a bed and a dresser, what would give me the most joy? Pictures of my son, of course, but which of the many albums would I choose? The ones that remind me of the sweet baby I held or the ones of school years? What about his graduation pictures? Can I somehow condense my son’s entire life into one album?
Which of my clothes would I choose? Certainly, I couldn’t take all my colorful scarves and jewelry, and I would miss those. I love my kitchen dishes and how they coordinate in deep crimson, yellow and sage green. But like Mom, I probably wouldn’t need them. And which of the shoes would I take? Which Bible of the many translations? How would I continue to write without my files, my special desk and the pictures of Santa Fe that surround my office?
Certainly I would take the pottery that reminds me of the Southwest, those special pieces I found in unique stores. But what of the many books that line my office, make crooked stacks in my bedroom and piles on the kitchen table? I love books. How could I live without them?
I suppose that within the shadows of dementia and Alzheimer’s, none of these things really matter. But every time I play my piano, open a book or wash the dishes—I realize how grateful I should be that I still enjoy my things. Who knows how long those treasures will last.
What about you? If you were limited to one room, what would you choose to surround yourself with joy?