May 2, 2015
I am a sentimental hoarder. I keep kid’s things, awards, mementos, as well as rocks from all the cool places I have visited. So was my Dean.
He kept 13 pairs of cleats . Almost every pair from 9th grade on — football , baseball and track were all in this box, tucked into the corner of our garage. “Why keep such things?”, I asked him the first time I saw the box, almost 30 years ago . His short answer was always, “because of what they represent, my hard work”. When I asked If I could toss them, I got a negative head shake, with that hard Dean-look that was one corner of his lip higher than the other paired with the inevitable smirk and raised eyebrow (Some of you know the look I am talking about ). I was told that, in short, I had BETTER leave them alone.
As we moved around, so too did the box of cleats– to and from homes and storage, the hardened dirt of fields at Rio Linda High, Sierra College and Sonoma State clinging loyally to each knob and hardened toe. I continually teased him about this box, but he was unrelenting. Who keeps their shoes from 30 years ago?
I just didn’t understand.
Since his passing, I have come across this box a few times– each time I cried, because of what it “represented”, his hard work.
The truth is, Dean definitely doesn’t need these cleats anymore. In heaven there is no need of these earthly things. I’ve always known he wasn’t coming back, yet I was torn being sentimental about so many of his things.
My love for Dean, my memory of a wonderful marriage and rich season of my life, however, is not defined by the material remnants, (so many that there are). I know these things, yet letting go of stuff, his and mine, is truthfully hard for me.
Today, this cool May morning, I come across the box once again. I am in a season of purging, so, Today is the day. In the cool morning breeze, I tenderly drop them one by one into the big black garbage can. I didn’t just drop the whole box into the trash, I put them in one petrified shoe at a time, hoping for some hidden jewel at the bottom, smiling, saying a prayer of gratitude for this season of my life that paired me with such a dedicated and disciplined man.
At the bottom of the box was… Dirt. I flung it in the air…
And watched it blow away on the breeze.
after note: I am working to reduce my stuff, especially the things I no longer use. I don’t want to burden my kids or heirs with my excess, and I am finding healing as I purge, organize and pass on what I can now. It feels great!