More than once I’ve described our never-ending household purge as “unsentimental.” It has to be. As we sort through a lifetime of stuff, tripping over memories is inevitable. The trick is to bull through temptation to reminisce without slowing down.
That works until it doesn’t.
Sunday I found a photo of my third-grade class, a well-preserved and remarkably sharp image snapped by one of those then-common itinerant photographers of schoolkids. Immediately it reminded me of that yearbook clip a friend sent me in mid-January, the shot of my eighth-grade basketball team.
I stopped long enough to pull the photograph from its binder, scan it and send it to a “group text” of guys from my high-school class — four of us were in this grade-school picture. I shared it with my social-media friends, too, which picked up several more.
A bunch of these kids were farmers’ sons and daughters, and my father provided veterinary services to their families’ dairy and beef herds. I was in Scouts with a few of the boys and played sports with a few others. Four of us appear both in this class photo and the one of the basketball team five years later.
Most of the 28 unsmiling schoolchildren standing on these risers in 1966 graduated together in 1975. Honestly I don’t know what became of the rest. I did hear that one of the boys passed away last year, 55 years to the day after this photo was taken.
I slipped the print carefully back into its protective sleeve and resumed my unsentimental purge’n’pack. In the back of my mind I kept hearing a line often attributed (correctly or not) to American poet Robert Frost:
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
These days that’s more than a proverb. Age and aging bring perspective that grows with each sunrise I see. Long-ago moments recalled, illuminated in the light of this day.
A simple black-and-white photograph and the memories it carries.
I’m a fortunate man.
The beat goes on here at Second Chance Ranch. Piles of packed boxes continue to grow as shelves, cupboards, closets and rooms are emptied. Eventually we’ll have more than a dozen bags of clothes to donate to charity.
We’ve ordered another 20-cubic-yard dumpster, which we expect to be delivered this week. And we’re getting close to the time when we’ll bring the auctioneer to the house to survey what we’ll sell.
I mowed the lawn yesterday.
Very soon we’ll load my Tacoma truck and make a quick (five or six days) trip to The Mountain and back. While we’re there we’ll drop what we hauled and probably rent a storage unit close by. Maybe we’ll open a new bank account.
And just in case you were wondering, I don’t expect my aching back to fully heal for quite a while. I’m caught in a frustrating loop of rest, recover, resume, re-injure, repeat — that’s just the way it is, managing and pushing past pain but stopping short of doing permanent damage.
Deb’s deals with her own aches, pains and nagging injuries. The physical part of getting old(er) sucks.
One benefit of visiting The Mountain within the next couple of weeks will be laying eyes on our prize again. When we’re buried in this end of The Move, the reason we’re doing it all seems so very far away (because it is). Getting a dose of The Ozarks, boosting our motivation to wrap up shit here, will be just what the doctor ordered, I think.
One year ago today we were still without a toad — we didn’t yet have Mercy. Nearby, however, was Boone County Airport and its Enterprise Rent-A-Car counter. We called, they picked us up at the campground and we drove away in a shiny black Chevy Colorado pickup.
Glad to be mobile again we headed north to Branson, Missouri. We wound our way up to a bluff high above Table Rock Lake, and we had lunch on the shores of Lake Taneycomo before returning to Arkansas.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.