By Tina Plett

The silvery-haired woman stepped into the utility room of her new house to receive instruction on how to maintain the furnace and various mechanical doodads.

She’d been recently widowed and had spent the last weeks and months searching for a home for this new chapter of her life. It was a huge undertaking for her to prepare the house for sale, then declutter and pack. She sifted through thousands of items, each holding their own memories, and went through the process of letting go of them. Of letting go of the house and all of its memories too. It was a challenging process. And that was just the selling part of it – there was still the process of looking for a new place she had to walk through.

Every step of the way, I was amazed to see her family right there, in the house, helping her with every piece of it. Her sister, her children, even her grandchildren pitched in. In particular, one 15-year-old grandson seemed to be there often, helping sort and pack her things, helping move.

On this day, possession day, I’d arranged for the home seller to meet with my buyer to give her the rundown of maintenance. There, in the utility room, my silvery-haired buyer stepped up to the water pipes for instructions. The buyer’s sister and the 15-year-old grandson and I all crammed into the small room with her.

The seller bent and pointed to a valve. “Here’s how to release the pressure on this valve…”

It was good of him to take the time and explain it all, but I wondered how much the woman would remember or understand. Through their whole marriage, her husband took care of the mechanical aspects. Suddenly, all this maintenance was dumped on her. Not only did she not know how it all worked, but it was a lot of detailed information to take in at one time. I wished there was a better way.

The grandson, I noticed, had been watching with intense eyes as the seller pointed to this and that. Then he said something that nearly made me gasp. “How often should I release the pressure on that valve?”

I? As in, he would do this for his grandma?  I glanced at the buyer’s sister, who wore a look of surprised tenderness.  My chest swelled with such joy I thought I would burst. I looked away, afraid I might bawl my head off. The air in the room seemed to thicken with emotion, but the buyer and even the boy didn’t seem to notice.

He was intent on listening to every single instruction. There was no Grandpa to take care of her anymore, and he would see to it she was not left alone and overwhelmed.

Most 15-year-olds would be hanging out with their friends or in front of a video game, but this gem of a person was sacrificing his weekends and summer days to clean, pack, move and watch over his grandma, perhaps reciprocating her loving protection and guidance of him.

It was a deep joy to witness. One of those moments that floods you with a new hope in humanity.

These are the moments I live for – moments of hope and joy and love.

And what an honour to behold them and be invited into these moments as a part of my work.

In those moments of stress or worry, cling to the good memories. The inspiring stories you’ve witnessed or somehow been a part of. Remembering them will brighten even the darkest day.

What’s a lovely story you’ve been a part of?


  1. Tina:

    That kid has enjoyed a good upbringing, as have you.

    Lucky grandma.

    Lucky (your) clients.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Thank you for sharing this moving story and recognizing the significance of what you were observing. You must be very in tune to the needs of your clients in all respects. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes as it reminds me of my own son who at age 13 would do anything for my own mom (his Oma) right up until the day she died in 2015. He was the one who brought her whatever she needed, wanted to be the one to push the wheelchair when she was unable to walk and carried her luggage on the many trips that my parents joined us on in the Caribbean when there were already in their 80’s. These are the things we live for as parents and show the real meaning of family.

    • Bob, it still must feel very empty over the holidays. That was just a few years ago when she was still with you. I bet she looked at you the same way as you look at your son. You are absolutely right that these are the things that show the real meaning of family! Thank you for taking the time to comment and for sharing your memories.

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