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If You Died First, What Would You Want Me to Do?

Jimmy, my husband, actually posed this question in the truck. I laughed and changed the topic. I could not deal with it at the time. Later, I wrote this letter. (I kept it private and did not share it with him for three weeks.)

Dear husband,

If I died first, what would I want you to do? After you grieve a few months—maybe even a year—then you need to pull it together and get on with the program. If you wish, give some of my things away, things I loved in this world but no longer need.

Sister Bonita can have the cross I displayed by the front door. It’s ornate and a little fancy. She will appreciate how the wall shines through. In fact, her walls will show it off better than mine. And she knows the Lord. It’s safe in her hands.

Sister Priscilla can have the watercolor of the Hesychia House, the retreat cottage beside our house. It will remind her of her visit here with her sweet husband who is now gone.

Give granddaughters Haven and Rose any of the angels scattered here and there. I want to be sure they are reminded that they are safe, have hovering angels around them at all times. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, angels—right there, whether family is present or not.

Give grandson Alex the painting by my friend Mary Chambers of the horses, since he is the animal lover. One day he’ll have a wonderful place to hang it. Grandson Zach might like the elongated photo of our place. He has certainly mowed the ground and drove golf carts over it enough to love it.

Let Brother Tommy have the big pottery bowl that sets on the counter, ready for use. He is the practical one. No telling how he’ll use it. Maybe he’ll mix his summer sausage in it or it will be a place to put his nuts and bolts. No telling, but he’ll use it.

Sister Betty can have the rustic star over the door. No matter where she lives, she’d have a star. Let’s name it right now—Star Betty. That makes my eyes sparkle and it feels right.

Give Sister Phyllis the quilt hanging over the loft railing. She can wrap up in it when hard times come. It will comfort her and help her remember our mother’s love of quilts.

Grandson Oliver can have any lamp in the house. We have so many, and I want him to be in the light. What a light he is. His presence makes me as happy as the dawning of a new day.

Give John the jelly jar safe. I have no idea how he’ll get it out east, but clearly, he knows wood and loves his Pawpaw’s big old radio and his Meemaw’s walnut dining table. Like the jelly jar safe. Since he loves art and hot tea, I think he’d also enjoy the contemporary painting of teabag art by my friend Ann Laser. He is welcome to teapots, too.

Garrett gets the sign: “This Home Is Open to God, Sunshine, and You.” The sign came from his Uncle Gerald and Aunt Bonita. He has fond memories with them. He may need the sign. You never know. And he is such a family man. He is welcome to anything in the kitchen. He has a chef living inside of him.

Let both sons divide my recipes. I don’t know how. I think they’ll figure it out. I have certainly enjoyed serving food to you and them. Maybe Garrett will want the meat recipes and John, the veggie recipes.

The photo albums. Who appreciates the good times we’ve had? You divide them however you wish. Our daughter-in-law loves photos and jewelry. And if John remarries someday, that daughter-in-law might love jewelry or a painting. You’ll know, if the need arises.

You know I am rich in perennials. I wonder if your sister and brother might want some. Let them all have a digging party with their spouses. Oh, and Sister Bonita loves flowers almost as much as I do. Jimmy, it will make the mowing far easier on you.

Keep the dogs. Please keep the dogs and the horses, too. They are such a comfort for you.

The hard stuff. If I’ve hurt you in any way and failed to ask for forgiveness, write it down. You know that’s good therapy. Make a list on paper. Really. I am asking you to forgive me for those things, no matter how big or small, whether I knew they existed in your heart or not. You do not need to carry them around. (And I forgive you for anything and everything. We have kept a clean slate between us, but you might conjure up something belatedly. It’s forgiven. Let it go.)

Okay, now put the list on the burn pile, and put a match to it. Give it up. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Stand there and watch as it burns away.

You will be freer after you do this. Freer to think, to go, to do. Freer to live, to love, to laugh again.

Anything else that’s not useful to the hundreds of books (I’m smiling), you may give them to my poetry friends or the library. The Salvation Army will take books, clothing, and shoes if you can’t think of another option. The Salvation Army helped my family when I was a child. I will always feel indebted to them.

Notice I left you all the furniture. You’ll need it. Keep all the bedding, too. I want you to be warm and feel me, even when you are not thinking of me. I leave you the fullness of my love and the fun memories. I will always be in your heart. You know, like your daddy is.

According to all the doctors and how I feel, I’m planning on many more years with you. This letter is just in case you wonder and ask me again what I want you to do if I kick the bucket first.

And Jimmy, don’t go dreaming up another big question like this one for a while. It’s hard work to think about this stuff. Maybe because it’s in the future, and I have no business being out there. I need to stay in the present.

Blessings to my family and my readers,

Pat Durmon

P.S. – After reading this, my husband now says he’s going first! ;0)

As always, I love your comments and Shares.

Family Reunion during John Jimerson’s visit to Norfork, Arkansas, in July, 2014. Photo taken by Pat's niece, Deanna Cassity.

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