I am writing this article a week after the Jewish High Holy days and the Pope’s two day visit to Philadelphia. The past week has been an opportunity for self reflection and inspiration hearing the Pope’s words of wisdom. However, you do not necessarily need to wait one year for Yom Kippur or a generation for the next Pope visit to Philadelphia. You can gain inspiration and self reflection by looking at everyday objects all around you.
We all have cherished memories of loved ones that a personal object helps bring to life. My dad died 19 years ago at the age of 56. As a child, I spent countless hours pitching to him in our backyard, which, in my eyes, was my field of dreams. As I reached my teenage years and my velocity increased, my dad had to place padding in his glove so his hand would not become sore.
My dad’s fifty some year old baseball glove now sits proudly in my office. When I need to make a difficult decision or simply am having a difficult day, a grab my dad’s well worn glove from a shelf and I put the glove on my left hand, pumping the glove with my right hand. The glove gives me inspiration and strength to come to the right decision and helps strengthen my resolve. I immediately harken back to my field of dreams with my dad being 45 feet away from me (our backyard was too small to be at regulation distance, 60 ft. 6 in. apart).
My dad was also an avid collector of American Presidential political campaign buttons and American stamps. As a kid, I marveled at how my dad was so meticulous in making sure that every stamp was in perfect condition and cutting the plastic stamp holder to just the right size. Unfortunately, our current house suffered a fire about 15 years ago. The fire badly damaged the stamps and political campaign buttons.
For the past fifteen years, due to the soot and dirt caused by the fire, the stamps and buttons have sat in trash bags in our garage. I have not thought too much about either until recently. My daughter, a high school senior, is studying the 1950s in American history. She was given an assignment of compiling artifacts from the 1950s. She asked me if I had any objects she could use for her school project. I immediately knew what she could use. I went to the back of the garage and opened the trash bags full of the political campaign button albums. I was covered with soot all over my hands and clothes, but I did not care. I knew exactly what I was looking for – the “I like Ike” Dwight Eisenhower buttons from the 1952 Presidential campaign. Interestingly, of the 9 albums containing political campaign buttons ranging from 1900 thru the Reagan era, the 1950’s album was the only album that was not damaged by the fire. Sadly, my children never met their grandfather. With the help of the buttons, they have the opportunity to gain a glimpse of who he was and what he meant to the family.
Sometimes you gain inspiration when you least expect it. Last month, I attended the funeral of a client. The client’s only family member was a 59 year old daughter with special needs. Due to the daughter’s developmental disability, she has been living for the past many years in a nearby group home. I served as our client’s agent under her power of attorney since she had no other family or friends able to serve. Nine people attended the funeral, five of which were from our elder law office. The daughter asked such beautiful, profound questions to the rabbi which no one else would have the courage to ask – “Will I see my mom tomorrow? Will my mom call me like she always does at 7 PM tonight? Do you feel anything when you are dead?
It was a beautiful tender moment of sincere love. No matter how an individual comprehends loss, the loss in genuine and profound. However, the memories will always remain.
Whether it is a baseball glove, buttons, or simply closing your eyes and remembering your loved ones, seeking inspiration from deceased loved ones helps you gain renewed strength to tackle the challenges that life may present.