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What is the purpose of Memorial Day? Why do we have this holiday?
Of course, it is a three-day weekend. A perfect time to hit the road and do something in the great outdoors. After all, in most parts of the country it’s the start of the Summer season. Time to clean off the grill, get out the frisbee, and invite family and friends over for the first barbecue of the season.
But wait, before you get going on the “Yay! It’s Summer” theme, take a moment to remember the origin of this holiday.
It started as Decoration Day. The Civil War ended in the Spring of 1865 claiming 600,000 lives. More lives than in other wars in US History. Decoration Day was a day set aside to decorate the graves of those who died in this war. Graves were decorated with flowers and flags with a goal to honor the ultimate sacrifice of those who died. By the end of the 1800’s Decoration Day was an official holiday.
After World War I, Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day. The revamped holiday was set aside as a time to remember all who gave their lives in service of our country in any war. Memorial Day is a distinctively American holiday and is properly celebrated with red, white, and blue American enthusiasm.
It is also a time to visit the cemetery and decorate the graves, fly the flag, and go to a parade. It might also be a time to think about and learn a little about American History. You could even make it a family activity. Get the kids to put those electronic devices to good use playing Memorial Day Trial Pursuit of sorts. How many wars have we Americans participated in? Where did we fight? Why were we fighting? Just go with the tried and true journalism questions… who, what, where, when, and why. There is a lot to learn. Your family might even have a discussion!
Use a little of that time off work to learn about, remember, and honor all the men and women who have died in military service.
Death and taxes (seemingly unlikely bed fellows at first glance) are often linked together because they have long been considered unavoidable life events. Some even say they are the only two things that are certain in life. Neither are something people typically look forward to, but they are both events that are anticipated and can be prepared for in advance.
This is the time of year when folks hope they have prepared well for their taxes. Most people prefer to get a tax refund rather than a tax bill. They hope the calculations have been made correctly and the payments made throughout the year will be enough to offset the sting of a big tax bill come April 15th.
Hmmm… come to think about it, most folks don’t typically look forward to a big funeral bill at the end of their life either. Few want to leave their family responsible for funeral costs. However, many people don’t plan to offset that expense like they do their taxes.
Even though most people, 62.5 percent according to the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) annual Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study, think it’s important to plan in advance. Only a small percentage (21.4 percent) actually act on their good intentions. Why? They have the perception that prepaying is too costly.
Most people are unaware that prepaying does not mean you must pay in one single payment. Many funeral homes offer specialized programs that allow funerals to be paid in advance, just like taxes, in small easily digested bites. Payments can be made on a variety of schedules allowing the consumer the opportunity to choose how long to stretch out payments and how often to make those payments. Individuals can even choose to make one payment per year! That means a person could choose to put their tax refund toward their funeral. Taxes could pay for death!
What about that roughly one quarter of people who do go beyond thinking they should make a funeral plan and actually make one? How do they feel once they have their plan in place? Ahh, they feel good. Funeral planners often say they see shoulders go down, hear audible sighs of relief and get hugs at the conclusion of a planning session. It’s like cleaning out the junk drawer. Something most folks put off but when they dig in and get it done, it feels so good they just keep going back to sneak a peak at that drawer all in order.
Mothers come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. There are tall moms, short moms, thin moms, and moms with soft edges. There are single moms, moms with partners and moms with husbands. Moms are an indispensable part of our existence. They literally keep the human species from becoming extinct. Hooray for Moms! Today is their day!
There are different ways to become a mother, but there really is no training program for being a mom. Most moms will tell you they had no idea what they were getting into. The job requires that one learns as one goes. On the job training.
There are a few how to parent books that may be helpful. Then there is always the option of getting advice from another mother or even your own mother. But, when all is said and done, it is the mom who decides. Moms decide what their children eat, what they wear, and when they sleep. Then one day the decision maker dynamics change. This change comes when the child develops a mind of his own. Children typically begin to come into their own mind beginning at about age three and believe themselves to know all by age 12. Then a mother prays.
Moms are always “moming” no matter how old their children become, no matter how many degrees they get or how smart they are, no matter they are moms themselves. Being a mom is a forever job.
Once you have a child you never really sleep soundly again. Oh, and yes, moms do have eyes in the back of their heads. They grow in when their child begins to crawl. They stay fully functional for the life of the mother. Some mothers are able to put blinders on those eyes once a child becomes self-supporting, but other moms just keep watching forever! Moms are wonderful but never perfect, you know.
So, how do you say thank you for all of that? It really doesn’t take a lot. Mothers are notoriously easy to please. A call, a card, dinner out, flowers. It’s pretty easy to please a mom. Don’t forget, May 12 is MOTHER’S DAY. Send her your love!
One of the realities of losing a spouse or a parent is the impact that event has on living arrangements. Are we living in the “right” place? Is the house too big? Is it too far away from family? Will my surviving parent be safe where they live? Should I move to be closer to mom or should mom move closer to me?
These are tough questions and they come at a time when emotions are running so very high. They also come at a time when income has likely decreased, perhaps requiring a change be made sooner rather than later. Conventional wisdom says wait at least a year before you make any big changes to your living situation, but the reality is waiting a year may not be financially possible. If you are able to slow down and let the dust settle a bit, that is no small blessing.
Really, it all boils down to three considerations: happiness, safety, and finances. The surviving spouse needs to be in a place that not only works financially, but also is safe and happy. You are going to need to use both your rational mind and your emotions if you are to make the best decision.
On the face of it, the financial consideration seems to be the trump card. After all, you have to be able to afford where you live. However, it is not always that simple. When the happiest place is affordable but not the most frugal choice, then maybe happy trumps financially smart? Decisions based on both emotion and rational thought are usually the best decisions.
That emotional happiness factor also impacts the safety issue. Perhaps the safest living arrangement isn’t going to be a happy situation? In that case, put your rational mind to work on finding a way to make the happy place safer.
You have to find the best fit answer for your family. As you are weighing those three considerations, resist the temptation to base the decision on what you think may happen or will happen down the road. Consider the wisdom of making decisions in the present, based on present circumstances. So, if dad is safe, happy and can afford to stay in his present home maybe no change is necessary … for now.