This blog was written by Suzanne Singh
For several years our company had been “D’s” appointed attorney under her POA. Up until her late-eighties D was independent and occasionally took a bus downtown to drop by our office to invite me for coffee; she would share stories of her youth in rural Ontario and her adventures as a young married woman in post-WWII era Winnipeg. She was charismatic and engaging and I always was pleased to take the time to share her memories with her.
D eventually had to leave her retirement home to move to a personal care home. Sadly she experienced a rapid decline and died not long after her move.
At our office, held in our safekeeping room, are two banker boxes of D’s personal items. The items were boxed up by a caregiver and left with us to sort through.
These boxes contain various papers and such personal items as a purse, saved letters and greeting cards, cherished trinkets and needlework in progress. The familiar effects of a life, and all that is left after several downsizing moves over the years.
I am always struck by the stories told by the items left behind. Old passports, birth and marriage certificates with graceful calligraphy, a collection of coins from countries visited during a lifetime and perhaps even yellowed and fragile titles for properties long since sold. Physical evidence of a life lived, and by-gone times. Items precious to someone at some time, now needing to be dealt with and handled with care and dignity.
Life is often marked by the usual passages yet the personal items left behind remind us of the individual they belonged to, not just as a file to be administered but as a unique story that we respect that we have been allowed even this much of a view into.
Working in the trust industry puts one in a privileged position, entrusted with not only a client’s financial life and the safekeeping and care of those assets, but the added privilege of being a party to their very personal backgrounds and stories. While engaging in the responsibility of conveying a client’s affairs to their proper conclusion, along that journey we necessarily are privy to a glimpse into their lives – it is humbling.