When Michelle's father passes away, she makes a shocking discovery that teaches her a powerful life lesson about waiting for the perfect moment ...
Whenever I was stuck for an idea of what to buy my Dad for his birthday or Christmas, I’d fall back on one of two items that always seemed to go down well; a sweater or a bottle of whiskey.
My Dad had been a great wearer - and indeed maker of sweaters. Ever eager to try the latest gadget, back in the 1970s, he’d bought a knitting machine for my Mum. When she didn’t show interest in knitting, he took it upon himself to make us kids the most awful sweaters in hideous colors.
It felt only right and proper to return the favor.
My father also claimed to enjoy a ‘nice drop of whiskey’. Over the years, he'd acquired several bottles from clients and suppliers in the run up to Christmas. So, when illness brought his career to a premature end, it seemed only natural that I become his surrogate supplier of the amber nectar.
I would seek out rare bottles, single malts, aged for thirty years or more. I hoped those bottles would do something to fill his void after involuntarily leaving the workforce.
The trouble was, I never saw him wearing any of those sweaters and I never saw him enjoying a whiskey. I often asked him why. His answer was always the same ...
"I'm saving them for a special occasion."
Then one day he was gone.
Powerful Life Lessons
In the days that followed my father's death, when I wasn’t busy organizing the funeral or trying to make sense of the paperwork that surrounds someone’s passing, I found myself wandering my parents’ house in search of him.
I saw his glasses and a folded newspaper by his chair, left there as if he had just gone into the next room for something.
I found a coat hanging on the end of the banister, from the last time he’d ventured out into the garden. I decided to take it upstairs to his wardrobe.
As I opened the wardrobe door, I was shocked to discover all the sweaters I’d bought him. Most of them, still in their cellophane wrapping, nearly all of them never worn.
I returned downstairs and went to what was known in the family as ‘Dad’s Cupboard’ and there was every bottle of whiskey I’d ever bought him. All unopened.
A wave of mixed emotions swept over me. Sadness, anger, frustration to name but a few.
What a waste. He’d sacrificed the enjoyment of my gifts, all because of some notion that they needed to be kept for best; for a special occasion.
Now there were no more occasions - special or otherwise.
Saved "for best" ...
I realized that I was in danger of heading down the same path as my Father. Having got married a few years earlier, my husband and I now had a large gold-rimmed china dinner service and a sizable collection of crystal glasses - all of it neatly packed away in tissue paper and bubble wrap, being saved ‘for best’.
That evening, I went home, got out every item, unwrapped it and started using them in place of my everyday tableware. Just being alive each day was special occasion enough to eat off the best china and drink from crystal glasses.
Just being alive each day was special occasion enough to eat off the best china and drink from crystal glasses.
Thief of Your Dreams
Now, many years later, I find I am once again drifting down the path of saving "for best". This time it’s clothes - and while I’m not hoarding sweaters like my Dad, I am guilty.
You see, working from home, living in the countryside, I spend most of my time in comfortable clothes: sweatpants, t-shirts and hoodies, slippers and wellies.
Meanwhile my wardrobe has become a prison cell for so many fabulous outfits and shoes - all being held at my pleasure for special occasions that never seem to come.
My Dad died long before he should have done.
He had put off so many things, never realizing there were so few grains of sand left in his timer.
None of us know how long we have left. When it comes to living the life you want, procrastination can be the thief of dreams.
My wardrobe has become a prison cell for so many fabulous outfits and shoes - all being held at my pleasure for special occasions that never seem to come..
With my Dad’s passing I have learned a great lesson in life; the cost of waiting for the perfect time, that special occasion that never comes.
So, with that in mind, eighteen months ago, I decided to become a house-sitter so that I could fulfill my dream of living a more nomadic life and visiting lots of new places. When homeowners, and particularly pet owners, want to travel a house-sitter comes to stay at their home to keep the house secure and take care of the pets.
In return, the house-sitter stays for free and gets to experience the place as a resident, rather than a tourist. As well as a fun way to see the world, it’s also very rewarding as the pets in your care really enjoy your company. It’s a wonderful way to meet new people too.
Most homeowners introduce me to one or two friends and neighbors before they leave and I am accepted into a community rather than just being a stranger passing through.
Making My Every Day a Special Occasion
There are so many motivational gurus who urge us to ‘live every day as if it’s your last’. While they are right that one day it will be our last, I think this approach brings undue pressure.
We feel as if we have to spend every day doing amazing things or it has been a waste of our time... That having a lazy day doing nothing is just not trying hard enough and really letting the side down. I, for one, am a great fan of lazy days. It is often when we slow down or stop that we notice, we listen and we truly savor life's special moments.
I have come to believe that each day is a special occasion and we can approach it with a sense of celebration. So, wear your best clothes, eat the finest food off your best china - and raise a crystal glass each day to simply being alive.
Connect with Michelle ...
As a left-handed, red-haired, green-eyed woman who can't curl her tongue, Michelle is literally one in a billion.
Michelle describes herself as a wild woman with a head for business. Equally at home walking the red carpet or the green hills. She loves fast cars and slow boats, crowded places and open spaces, vibrant conversation and communing in silence. Deeply spiritual but non-religious. Outwardly confident, inwardly shy. Incurably romantic, eminently practical. Young at heart,yet wise beyond my years.
As well as developing websites and managing social media for clients, Michelle is the founder of "The Happy Housesitter" where she writes about her travels, teaches others how to become a house-sitter and recommends useful products and services.
She’s also designed a range of fun house-sitting related t-shirts and sweatshirts which are featured on the site. If you think being a house-sitter could be of interest to you - or are interested in Michelle coming to house sit for you - you can find out more at https://thehappyhousesitter.com