Sunday, February 3, 2013

On Loss and Regret

The piece On Loss and Regret in today's New York Times really hit a nerve with me.  My mom is now 90 and has always been a bit of a hoarder.  She and my dad really cashed in when they sold their big house and moved to a 2 bedroom condo, and since he died two years ago, she has mostly just sat on that money.  (While he was alive, they gave us annual checks, but she seems to have discontinued that practice.  She also seems to ignore the fact that my brother is poor and basically homeless -- a helping hand might make a huge difference to him, but I don't see any evidence that she is interested in providing the assistance he needs to get back on his feet.  She won't even give him her car - although she drives so infrequently that it was more than a week before she realized that she had run down her battery.)

Anyhow, when gift-giving occasions arise lately, I have to admit it does seem somewhat pointless to give my mother more stuff.  For one thing, she has tons and tons of stuff already that she doesn't use.  For another, she certainly has the resources to buy herself anything she needs or wants.  And thirdly, as mentioned in the article, it is hard to escape the sense that her days are somewhat limited and that therefore the use-value of anything I might choose for her is also rather limited.  And so, I tend towards flowers or chocolates -- items that must be enjoyed immediately, so that she'll actually get some use out of them -- and so I won't have to dispose of them... someday...

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