Time, It’s The Stuff Life is Made Of

:04 read “Time and tide wait for no man.” ~Geoffrey Chaucer

My first post here was on July 25. That day my husband and I were on our way to Iceland with my mom. She wanted to return to her homeland one more time and wanted us to join her in the experience. My posts haven’t been particularly personal and that’s been intentional. I’ve alluded to situations but only to illustrate a point. I never intend for this to be about me because I’m a student of life and I’ll always be one. None of us will ever “learn life” no matter how long we live or how hard we study. Today, it’s personal.

Our sweet mom, age 89, had a stroke in October and after a month of hospitalization and rehabilitation we have placed her in a loving, caring nursing home, just this week. All of us hope it will be a temporary transition and that she’ll get strong enough to return home to her own apartment. We’re facing an unknown outcome. For now, all we can do is to “let time take time.”

Without knowing what lies ahead, we have to pack up her things and put some of them in storage for an indefinite period. In the process, some things will be donated and some will be discarded. It’s been intensely emotional for all of us. Both my brothers have taken time from their busy lives and traveled back “home” to help me this week. We’ve sorted through years of memorablia and tried our best to do it respectfully. Since all of us can’t be together to do this, we’ve given careful consideration to setting aside some of her belongings for family members who we know will treasure them. 

Powerful lessons we are learning about time.

Perhaps saying we’re learning them isn’t quite right. We never really learn some things until we experience them intimately. We’ve all known since childhood that life is fragile and uncertain because our dad died while we were all still very young. Now we’re learning that even a long life is short. We’re having a head-on collision with the fleeting and temporary nature of everything, including us. The opening quote reminds us no one is so powerful that they can stop the march of time. 

We’re prompted to remember that we all arrive with nothing and return in the same way. It’s a stern admonition, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~Matthew 6:19-21. We should enjoy all the good things this world has to offer, but we musn’t become too attached to them and they sure can’t be our reason for living or our goals in this life.

Regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, the wisdom of simplicity is a central message. We all tend to get very caught up in our “stuff” and when it’s time to pare down, we all wish we didn’t! Each of us returned home vowing to take a hard look at our own “treasures”! We’re realizing with crystal clarity all that truly remains after we are gone is the legacy we created. Our essence and how we impacted the people whose lives we touched is all we ever leave behind.

Moving from sadness to wisdom and strength

Life has a way of wrapping gifts inside of tough times. Most often we don’t find the hidden pearl of wisdom right away. Robert Schuller  could turn a phrase in a way that really made it memorable. I loved to hear him speak. One of my favorites was “turn your scars into stars.”  Oprah Winfrey says it this way, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” 

Maybe after some time to reflect on it, we will have developed a deeper and richer understanding of the things that truly matter, the things that last. Without a first hand lesson, we may not have come to such a clear understanding. Even hard stretches of time can create profound meaning in life. I suspect that we’ll all treasure our loved ones a little more tenderly, be a little less judgemental and a bit more patient. “This too shall pass” is the ultimate wisdom.

“Life is short, God’s way of encouraging a bit of focus.” ~Robert Brault,








  • Mary bell

    Life has a way of wrapping gifts among the tough times….. I love that, Betty. Is your mom at St John’s? That’s where my mom was. I know these times are tough, believe me. Never ready for that segment of your loving mother’s life. Bless you

    • Betty Streff

      Yes she is, I felt a lot of love there when I visited several months ago to talk to the director. Thank you for taking time to reach out. I appreciate it a lot. These passages of life can teach us so much if we listen to our heart.

  • Gail

    So sorry that you must walk through this time. Please know there are so many people praying and wishing the best for you and your family. Your writing granted us all of a bit of perspective. Thank you!

    • Betty Streff

      We all seem to take a turn. It’s amazing how many of us have been down this road- a tribute to our longevity, isn’t it? I always appreciate your kind remarks, Gail. Thank you! <3

  • John Northrop

    Betty-I can somewhat relate to what you are experiencing. When my father passed away 8 years ago, I went through his possessions. There was not many tangible items to keep. Possibly pictures, keepsakes, few personal items. Most important were letters from family and friends written to him, thanking him for his help with one thing or another. I think that is what is important to leave behind-a legacy of service to others. Much more important than material items. I have found myself donating many things that I know will benefit others-things that I can not longer use. Thanks for the personal post! .

    • Betty Streff

      What a tribute to your father! It is no surprise you turned out to be the man you are. A legacy of service to others, yes! From your lips to God’s ears!! 🙂 Thank you John!

  • Grant Newbold

    Dear Blog Reader. I’m thankful and grateful for this post from Betty which is both powerful and personal. Betty and I talk about these issues frequently as my mom is also in a nursing home. Just one week ago I went to see my mom and for the first time in my life she didn’t know who I was!! As much as I knew that moment would come I was still shaken by it and sent into a couple of days of struggle. My mom is 92 and had a very good life, but it is still hard to watch the decline at the end. I’m now 65 years old and it is so strange to write that. However, what I want you to know is that both Betty and I feel the great urgency to get our Worthy Values First system of intrinsic motivation moved forward and viable for the benefit of all of us. You help us with that when you read and subscribe to our blog. More opportunities to help us will be forthcoming soon. Thanks again for accessing our website and please consider subscribing if you haven’t yet done so. Talk to you again soon. Doc Newbold.

    • Betty Streff

      We appreciate our readers! If you know someone who might enjoy the website, please share! It’s also possible for me to subscribe to the website for them if I have their email address.

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