Lighten Up

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I made it back from Houston about 7:00 p.m. last night. The General had done her white-glove cleaning over the entire house while I was away. Everything throughout the house was perfectly in place, carefully dusted and ready for inspection. Of course, I’m not the Inspector General. Did I mention the General’s mother is flying in today for a visit?

 

Of course, with the exception of my office, our home is never cluttered. The General mentioned that last night: “I’ve got the house cleaned. Everything is as it should be with the exception of your office. It looks like a disaster area”. The unspoken mandate was… I bet you can figure it out.

 

It didn’t help my plight any that last night I moved some things out of a recently placed box in the garage containing pictures and keepsakes from my office. It was the first box of many more to come. Almost before I got too far into the process the General said: “I’m sorry, but there isn’t room in the house for any of that stuff.”

 

So what did she want me to do with it? Regardless of what she wanted, I wasn’t going to throw it away. That isn’t going to happen. She suggested that I take all the family pictures that I had displayed in my office out of the frames and put them in a photo album. “And do what with the picture frames?” was the question I didn’t want to ask.

 

Okay, so I’m a Pottery Barn junkie. I admit it. I’ve got scores of frames for photos from Pottery Barn and they are too nice not to use. Actually, they have been in use in my office. For example, there is the photo of the General sitting in the open cockpit of a neighbor’s plane. I guess you could say that she was in the midst of the “more daring phase” of her life. The photo wasn’t staged. She had actually been flying with our pilot friend and was even open to his turning the plane upside down in making a complete circle in the sky.

 

Did I mention this is the same wife that used to be terrified before Southwest Airlines left the runway? Honestly, she’d clench her hands over the armrest so tightly that you’d think she was trying to crush an empty coke can. Sometimes, you could also see  tears forming in her eyes. She was literally terrified.

 

I won’t even begin to describe for you the kind of trouble I got into after coaxing her on to a roller coaster at Six Flags. I told her she’d really like it. She didn’t! Historically she hasn’t been all that open to the more daring aspects of her persona. She needs to lighten up.

 

The open cockpit airplane ride was about the same time frame that she traded the Oldsmobile minivan (ugly, ugly, ugly) that I bought for her to drive without asking. She traded it in for a five-speed Toyota Celica convertible. The car was tons of fun. Of course, she didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did. For one thing, she didn’t want the top down because she doesn’t like being in the sun. Easy solution – “Wear a cap”.

 

A month or so ago when the General and I took the back roads out of Fredericksburg to locate a burger place in the middle of nowhere, it was coloring outside the lines for her. She even sat in the sunshine in the outdoor venue and actually enjoyed it. It was a glimpse of the gal who wasn’t terrified from flying upside down.

 

Okay, so you’re getting the drift of where I’m headed with this. I like the daring, adventurous, non-traditional aspects that she’s capable of enjoying rather than the less adventurous “needlepoint crafting and jigsaw puzzle problem solver approach.” If I’m going to be retired, I’m not going to be content to take up either of those time consumers. I want to be in the midst of life’s next big adventure rather than letting it pass me by. There is nothing I’d like better than for her to tag along and enjoy it all.

 

I’m not suggesting that we should throw caution to the wind, but I want the freedom to be extemporaneous. Actually, that’s just the way I roll and to do otherwise would feel too much like hitting the brakes.

 

I was half joking when I told her we were going to drive the Miata to Maine. Honest to God, we’ve got to lighten up. When the General goes for a three or four days visit to see the grandkids play ball, you’d think she was going to be gone from home for a month. She even hauls a Yeti cooler with her. Did I mention, the trunk in the Miata isn’t large enough to hold a Yeti cooler? She’s going to have to give herself permission to leave it all behind and just go with the flow.

 

Sounds like sound advice – right? “Absolutely!” is my initial response. On the other hand, I think the General is giving me that same message related to the keepsakes and prized possessions I have in my office at work. There isn’t a place to display most of them in our home.

 

Why not let it all go? That really is a stretch for me. There are so many items that trigger memories too precious to forget. I’ll figure it out. I’ve at least got to get the stuff out of the office. It soon won’t be my office and I’d get less than an honorable mention if I just walked away and left everything behind.

 

Who knows, maybe I’ll distribute some of it to co-workers. I’ve already passed on a couple of things that were way too good to throw away and I knew I didn’t have room for them.

 

One of the things currently in my office is a plate with a picture of the chapel at TBCH. Long before I worked for the agency, Mr. Wright, a previous executive director, provided them as keepsakes to many students when they graduated from high school. Actually, mine came as a gift from an attorney for whom the General worked. He found it at a garage sale and thought of me. I’ve now had the TBCH plate for years and I don’t think… no I won’t let go of it.

 

It triggers a memory of his kindness and it also triggers a memory of Mr. Wright. Charles Wright is the man responsible for my having a job at Texas Baptist Children’s Home. He hired me in 1989. That act of kindness has served me well from that time until now.

 

So maybe the new mantra going forward is to simply to “Lighten Up”. Sounds like sound advice for both the General and myself.

 

All My Best!

Don

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