Feeling Philatelic

When I left full-time employment, I set some long-term goals. One was to cull the many boxes of stuff we have lugged around from place to place–over 50 in all. These boxes contained the remnants of our parents’, grandparents’, and other relatives’ lives. They survived multiple moves, storage lockers, and basement floods.

You know how it is–a loved one dies, you have to empty the family home quickly, and there is no time to pick through all the personal items and papers. My biggest fear is that the same task would fall on our daughter when we are gone. I know how hard this activity has been on me, and as an only child, it will be even harder for her.

I couldn’t stomach staging a yard sale, and some of the items seemed just a little too dear for Goodwill or not suitable for the hospital thrift shop. So, I boxed them up and took them to an auction house. I was told it would be a few months until they got to them.

Meanwhile, my father-in-law’s second wife began to clean out her home. In broken English, she tried to explain that she was getting old and wanted to make sure she gave us (seemingly) everything that did not belong to her by marriage. Three car loads later, we had even more work to do.

Among one of her boxes was my husband’s childhood stamp collection. He was overjoyed to be reunited with it and decided it would be a wonderful retirement hobby. I felt faint and slightly nauseous, not at the thought of another retirement hobby, but because one of the boxes I had dropped off at the auction house contained my own childhood stamp collection as well as what was left of my grandfather’s after my mother sold the most valuable holdings.

Feeling a little sheepish, I called the auction house to see if the lot had been sold. I could imagine the kind lady at the other end rolling her eyes–she must get plenty of remorseful phone calls like mine.  My lot was still in the warehouse, but it’s home now and we are looking forward to delighting in our collections all over again.



The Sun Casts Long Shadows


It’s actually March right now–a gray, rainy day of which we’ve had many this winter. Like everyone else, I’m ready for spring. But in my mind, it’s already the end of August. The late summer light’s warm and earthy tones are almost as beautiful as the early spring brightness seen in clear blue skies, purple hyacinths, and new leaves. The brightness is past, the heat is dissipating. For some, late summer brings new energy as school children head back to school, adults head back to work, and routines return to normal. For others, it is a time of reflection and the hollow feeling that time is getting short.

I’m walking through late summer, cognizant that the leaves will be falling sometime soon (but not that soon); sometime in the very far future, winter will settle into my bones and I want to be ready for that. For now, I am going to savor the summer light and the near perfect warmth. I’m going to walk in the early evening and delight in the long shadows. I’m going to harvest what was planted and put food up, but I’m also going to reach back into those bare fields where seeds were planted and root out some memories.