It may look like just a cheap trinket sitting on a shelf to you, but to me it’s a treasure; a wonderful memory; even an anchor of sorts. To the unknowing eye it’s just an old, beat up, dented Zippo cigarette lighter. There’s a small piece of wire holding the hinge together. That wire was placed there by Dad to keep the old lighter functioning and at the ready back in the day when he smoked a pack a day (or more) while working double shifts at the steel mill to keep his family fed; even after the disposable plastic butane lighters became the norm. “After all,” he might say, “Why buy another lighter when I have a perfectly good one right here in my pocket.”
That picture on the wall over there ... it may not look like much to you, but it’s pretty special to me. You see, Laura had that made for me from a photo she snapped the first time we stood in front of the Grand Tetons. It was a beautiful, sunny, clear blue-sky day in the summer of 2011. We were on our way to Yellowstone after helping Bethany and Adam move to Laramie shortly after their wedding day. I had seen pictures and videos of the Tetons and knew I would just love seeing them in person. But that day, as we came out of DuBois, Wyoming, heading west, the sight of the mountains literally took my breath away. Now, every time I see that picture on the wall, I remember that moment I was so blessed to experience standing beside the love of my life.
We are, for lack of a better term, coming to grips with the reality of “letting go.” We’ve already gotten rid of so many “things” in an effort to downsize for our move to a smaller home. But as that time grows nearer, we find we still have so much we need to let go of. Many items might not look all that important to anyone else, but they hold such special places in our hearts that it makes it hard to even think about getting rid of them.
I’m not talking about furniture and the like. Most of that can be replaced. But there are those small things — like gifts the kids gave you on special occasions (or for no reason at all), or photos of special times and places — that speak to our hearts.
I’m talking about things like the etching of a lioness lying in tall grass with a cub snuggled up close at her chest. She appears content with the closeness of her youngster, but you can tell she is vigilantly scanning her surroundings, making sure her pride is safe and secure. It is a perfect picture of Laura: loving, caring, devoted to her children, and ever so watchful for the safety and well-being of those she loves. Those attributes even carry over to those in her charge, whether it be the patients she cared for while doing hospital work, or the thousands of little ones she cared for during her 20-something years as an elementary school nurse.
There absolutely has to be room on some wall in the new place for that!
And, hey, do you see that miniature ladder-back rocking chair with the woven seat bottom? Well, that may not look like much of a treasure to you, but it means the world to me. You see, that fragile little rocker was hand-made by my father. He carved the wooden parts and fit them tightly together just so-so, sanding the joints smooth as he went. And then he wove strands of regular twine — in the same way he used to weave strips of cane for the seat of a full-size chair in his younger days - to form a seat. It might look a little loose now, but it tells the story.
I’m not all about stuff. Mostly I can take it or leave it. But some of this isn’t just “stuff.”
These are special moments of our lives in physical form.
And that makes this “letting go” business is kinda tough.