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As those of you who follow me know, I joke that I’m a tired older woman, which more often than not these last few days has been true. Indeed, I have published a number of articles and even a book A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off!
under that moniker.
In this capacity, I have crossed one of Life’s great thresholds. I no longer accumulate. I’m a downsizer.
As a result of my efforts to limit my possessions, there are those who would say that my home is rather lavish, while in reality it is quite small when compared with other properties I have owned. And yet, in its cozy way, it suits me.
To those who comment on my surroundings, I respond that most of us fill our homes with part milk and part cream. In the last few years, I have more and more limited my belongings to just cream.
What I have kept beside me is rich indeed, even when the items in question represent little or no financial value whatsoever. Rather, they are the repositories of a lifetime of memories.
Small treasures, I call them, and I cherish them, small as they are, none of them measuring over three inches by three.
In my dining room, a curio cabinet stands in which there resides a small brass bank formed into the shape of a fine English country house. Playing with this item on the rose-colored carpet in my paternal grandmother’s living room is one of my earliest memories. It has been with me all of my life, and if I eventually end up in a single room somewhere, it will sit by my bedside.
On a dark cherry bookcase in my house, you will find a two inch tall, carved marble owl that was given to me by a young woman named Mary almost half a century ago. She was my Chi Omega Little Sister at Emory University, and I only knew her a few weeks.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 1967, Mary drove onto the bridge connecting Memphis with Arkansas as she traveled home for the holiday, and a tractor trailer rig crossed the center line and struck her vehicle head on. A short time later, she was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The cold stone of the owl is all that I have of her – a warm, bright, laughter-filled spirit that was snuffed out way too young.
Behind glass in a living room cabinet, I can see from my favorite armchair a cylindrical wooden box comprised of smooth sides topped off by a flat sphere with rounded edges. Plain and utilitarian, its maple wood over the years has taken on a golden patina.
Inside this small box, a chunk of talc still waits to be grated, for this receptacle dispensed my father’s baby powder. Dad died on July 9, 2007, almost exactly two years to the hour after Mother, who had passed away on July 9, 2005. Birth to death to eternal life is how he would have thought of it.
I glance up as I pause in my writing, and my eyes settle on a wooden rectangular block, half an inch by half an inch by two inches in size. Attached to its front is a small copper plate on which has been etched a leaning tombstone set beneath a tree bent by sea breezes.
The piece was a gift from a man I once loved in a different time at a different place, when I met him four years after the death of my husband. This man was intelligent, cultured, and funny, and we recognized an immediate connection.
Conversation came easily for over a year as we spoke during hour upon hour spent together. And then he added the M word to our relationship, and we began to discuss marriage.
I had buried a husband, and I knew what that meant – the commitment, the caring, and the heartache. The question now was, as much as this man claimed to love me, did he love me that way? If I were the one to go first, would he stand by me in the same way and to the same degree that I was prepared to stand by him?
In the end, I determined that he wouldn’t, and I walked away from the relationship. Marriage, just for the sake of being able to say that I was married, simply wasn’t worth it.
Still, time spent with this man had been a laughter-filled gift, as he had taught me once again how to feel and not just exist. In his presence, part of me had reawakened after a long healing sleep, and I was grateful to him for this.
Like pulling off a bandage after a surgery, even though I had healed, it hurt like the dickens to remove myself from him. I don’t want to forget this warm, charming man who was sent when I most needed him, and so, the tiny block remains within sight, the leaning tombstone a fitting reminder of a past love that now rests in peace.
I look at young people around me as they set up their homes, bent on frantic acts of accumulation, and I want to tell them to stop, pause, and think. Do they really need another flat screen TV, or will the one that they already have still do? Will they really be happier if they own a new IPhone?
But at the end of the day, I would bet it will not be these things that surround them. It will be the small treasures.
When to Remain Silent by Annie Acorn
On the Road by Annie Acorn
Bloodhound (Niki Edgar Mysteries) by denise hays
One Last Gift (Annie Acorn Christmas Anthologies) From Women’s Pens
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