The Key With A Heart

I’m taking a break from my typical, albeit intermittent, “Monday Memes” post format today to talk about a key. A very specific key. A key that holds my heart…

As most of you know, my father passed away last October after a long illness. I still miss him a lot – and my mother, too – but I have come to accept “the natural order of things.” There is an emptiness now, with both my parents gone, that is hard to fill, hard to ignore. But I move forward and do my best to remember the good times, holding their love in my heart.

Most days, it’s just OK at best. Today it was a little rougher than normal.

See, today I attempted to remove the key to my parents’ house from my key ring. My family moved into that house in early December 1972, and my father passed away gently in that same house in October 2014. My Dad spent just under 43 years there, in a house he and my Mom both loved – our whole family loved it, actually. We all still do. Which is why today was kinda’ hard.

Today in one of my frequent grumble-y moments, I became frustrated trying to remove the fist-sized wad of keys and door openers that are MY keys from my back pocket. As I mumbled obscenities under my breath, I vowed to “fix that flippin’ key ring” when I got home. Sad thing is, when I tried, the only key I do NOT need on my key ring is the old key to my parents’ house. The very key I received as a “responsible fourteen-year-old man/boy” in December of 1972. A key that has been in my pocket virtually every single day of my life for now over forty-three years. I cannot let that key go, I just can’t…

keyThe key we are discussing looks NOTHING like the key above, of course. The key I cannot let go of is a nondescript, regular old house key with a triangular head. But – in my mind, and in my heart – that key is as magical and special as the heart-shaped key shown above. My key does hold my heart, and opens the door to a bahjillion memories, all created in that house…

My first “coming home drunk” (I passed out in the side flower bed and my Mom woke me up the next morning – not even kidding!) My first “sneak out and sneak back in” without my parents knowing (I’m sure they did). My first car accident (I ran over the mailbox at the top of our driveway as I was backing up and out). My first day on my first job (I was 15 – Mom dropped me off at work – so embarrassing!) My first cigarette “down by the creek.” Summer nights playing Jail Break (teenage hide-n-seek, a variation of Kick the Can). Late night “streaking” in my undies with the neighbor boys (it was the 70’s, after all, and we were too scared to get totally naked, LOL!)

Then there are forty-three Christmas gatherings and birthdays and Thanksgivings, all in the same house, all through the door opened by that key. When I close my eyes, I can still hear how the front door “opens” – there would be a small click as I turned the key. Then, when I opened the door, the weather stripping would creak a little. My Dad was always in the living room, in his recliner, and would always say, “Well, hello there, son” and – for whatever reason – it seems my Mom was ALWAYS at the kitchen sink, washing dishes (I think she was born wearing yellow Playtex rubber gloves). I would walk in, kiss my Dad then circle into the kitchen where my Mom would always say, “Well, here’s my big man” and then hug me really hard and kiss me.

I miss them, and I miss that house. And, weird as it sounds, I cannot give up that key.

Even though it no longer opens any physical door, it is an anchor for me. I look at that key and feel safe and loved and, well, home. I know I have shared before that keys hold a special meaning for me – this one certainly does. I suspect that if I am lucky enough to live to be one hundred, I will still be carrying that key and – if I am really lucky – I’ll also be carrying all the loving, beautiful memories it unlocks…

Advertisements

Monday Memes 29

OK, let me begin by apologizing for the late post; as I write this, it is actually TUESDAY, not Monday. But, I had a jam-packed “day off” today, getting ready for Christmas and all the festivities happening next week. In fact, reflecting on my own personal Monday Madness provided the inspiration for today’s post…

I wish I could say this was a list I had “edit-ed” myself, but I didn’t. That said, I plan on taking this list to heart this season:

Holiday ListI mean, can you imagine how great the holiday season would be if we all wrapped one another in hugs? Or actually were the light, instead of seeking them out? It.Would.Be.Amazing.

I also see this graphic, or some version of it, every year and every year I come to identify with its message more and more…

Christmas list

This holiday season, I hope everyone can connect with what really matters, what is important and what will make your life – and the lives of others – better year round. Is an X-Box 360 a great gift? No doubt, but visiting a shut-in, helping clothe others less fortunate or donating the money you would have spent on a fancy Christmas dinner out to a local food bank will make the world a better place and nourish your soul and spirit.

Isn’t it time you revisited YOUR Christmas list?

How Do You Decide?

boxes-keep-throw-donate

It has now been over a week since my father passed away, I have been busying myself with “executor” duties almost every day. It is hard to imagine what one must do to “prove” that someone you loved has died until you are actually called upon to do it. Thanks to my awesome friends, sympathy cards continue to arrive. They are sweet and touching but also serve as daily, multi-color reminders that Pop-pop is gone. Sigh… Then there is tomorrow’s task.

Tomorrow I will be at my Dad’s house for two reasons:

1. Monday would have been his 85th birthday so I want to “visit” him and Mom at the cemetery and mark the day with a small celebration.

2. It is time for the purging to begin. To borrow a mantra from professional organizers (and hoarders), it is time to begin the process of “Keep. Throw Away. Donate.”

I am not looking forward to this endeavor.

My Dad lived in the same house for forty-two years and, while he was a tidy guy, he was also very frugal – meaning that few things ever got “thrown away.” This thing was saved for parts. That thing was here in case we “ever needed one.” And let’s be honest – a person just accumulates a LOT of stuff in the course of eighty-plus years of living.

I am going down alone, partly because I need some alone time at my parents’ house and partly because I simply do not know how productive the visit will be. Sure, some things are easy – old magazines and papers, well-worn bath towels and dozens of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” containers with the lids (my Mom always sent food home with us when she was alive). Some things are harder – my Dad’s clothes, some of my Mom’s remaining things that Dad could not bear to part with and pictures, lots of pictures. My senior picture, all the grand kids’ photos – heck, my parents’ fridge is one giant photo collage. Where does it all go? How do you decide what to keep?

I’ve decided to let my heart decide. During future visits I will have input from my sibs but this first “run down” it will just be me, alone in the house my parents loved, the house I grew up in, the place that holds many memories for me. Those are what I most plan on keeping – all the great, loving memories of growing up there, the “Hallmark Holidays” with my family (my goodness, my Mom never met a holiday guest towel or candle ring she didn’t love!), the tree I grew from a seed that is now like 35 feet tall in the back yard, the bent mailbox post (bent because I ran over it as I was learning to drive almost forty years ago…)

Some things will get tossed. Some things will get donated. But some things I will cherish forever.

Christmas in July – My Gift

Among all my other weirdnesses, I observe Christmas in July.”

Every 25 July, I like to celebrate the impending event known as Christmas (only in July!) Typically I send a few holiday cards to friends and family (the list changes every year; if you didn’t get a card this year, don’t despair – your turn is coming!)

I always enjoy the responses they (the July Christmas cards) bring about: “I can barely manage sending cards in December – how do you do it twice a year?” or “That card really brightened my day and made me smile – thanks!” or my personal favorite, received this year: “What in the Hell is wrong with you? Are you insane?”

Christmas BranchesChristmas really is my favorite holiday (Martin’s, too!) so it is pretty easy for me to “get in the holiday mood.” I like to think the cards we send make people smile big, forget about their troubles and concerns and maybe – just maybe – make their day brighter. So, whether you made the card list or not this year, “Merry Christmas – in July!!!” 

PS – I mentioned a gift in the title of this post. Seems today, my little online journal surpassed 25,000 views (25,011 as I write this!) Twenty- five thousand minds have connected with the daily “boredom” I share that is my life. Viewed by peeps from over 132 countries, territories and – honestly- places I have never even heard of, such statistics make ME smile big- now that new is MY Christmas in July gift! Ho ho ho! 

When Is It Enough?

I was OFF today (hooray!) and had little scheduled on my calendar other than one quick errand and organizing bills. My “BIG PROJECT” for today was to hang the two pieces of art my Sweetie and I gave to one another for Christmas. And before anyone accuses us of being pissy, elitist snobs, the art was very affordable. But they are also VERY big…

We gifted each other with two companion pieces, each 40″ square. The pieces are embellished canvas transfers from a collage artist we like. Here they are:

Art 1

Art 2So yeah, the pieces are pretty cool – Marilyn is hanging in our bedroom and Audrey Hepburn is in our TV room. They look awesome – and I actually enjoy the process/challenge of hanging art. The reality of it all is that we do have quite a few pieces of art, which brings me to the query/title of this post – When IS It Enough?

To hang those two pieces of art, I had to displace (move and re-hang) six OTHER pieces of art – my Sweetie and I just shook our heads. There is not a single, empty wall in our apartment; in fact, in many spaces the art is stacked two and three pieces deep vertically on the walls (I like that look, BTW!) But our humble home is certainly not lacking in the wall art department which made me ask myself, “Am I an art hoarder? When does it all stop? When is enough really enough?”

I blame part of the “problem” on my profession as an interior designer. I am barraged with beautiful things every day and, honestly? Sometimes (often!) it is hard to say “No!” But I do worry that maybe one day our apartment will look more like some sort of art store rather than a home – I mean, these racks are a little too hard core, am I right?

Wall Hung Art Rack

Post-Christmas Carnage

I saw them for the first time today. It seems like it happens earlier and earlier every year.

I swear, I saw at least eight or nine of them during my travels this afternoon. And, as always, my heart broke every time I saw one, out in the cold and wet, abandoned and forgotten, usually on the tree lawn but sometimes actually in the road. It is a crime, really…

tree one That’s right. “Dead” Christmas trees. The pine needle carnage I witnessed today was almost unbearable. As someone who loves Christmas, I have always hated this time of year. I think I suffer from like “Holiday Post-Partum Depression.” I get really sad.

I just guess I never really understood how Christmas trees so lovingly selected, so carefully decorated, so loved and adored thru all of December can be so quickly kicked to the curb – and I mean, KICKED to the curb – mere days after Christmas. I mean, talk about love it and leave it. Wow.

It is estimated that a 6-7 foot Christmas tree can take as long as ten years to growTEN YEARS! That’s a decade of living, reduced to maybe 30 days of purpose. And once that purpose is over come 26 December, it’s a race to “get the tree down” and out of the house before it loses all its needles. It’s just so sad to me. Ten days ago, that tree brought joy to your face; now you grumble the whole time you are dragging it out to the garbage…

tree twoI guess what makes me so sad is that something that was once so loved and so adored is now, unceremoniously and without respect, reduced to garbage. It’s wrong; no tree deserves to be treated like that. Show spent trees some respect; honor their purpose and sacrifice.

I did see one tree lovingly “put to rest” today. It looked to be a 7-footer, wrapped respectfully in a white tree bag, placed with purpose on the tree lawn and – best of all – the tree bag had a huge red bow attached. I almost stopped my car and went to thank the homeowners but I knew they would think me a lunatic…

Please – if it’s too late this year then next year – let your “live tree” move to the “Great Mulch Bin in the Sky” with dignity and decorum. Use a live tree bag before disposing of your tree and, before you seal it shut and take it to the street, take a moment to remember the days and weeks it brought you joy. You will be happy you did.

Post-Christmas Bottomfeeders

Today was my first day back to work after a week-long vacation over Christmas. I had a GREAT week off, so I thought I was well-rested and prepared to return to work.

I wasn’t. I guess I had forgotten about “Post-Christmas Bottomfeeders.” Don’t know that term?

Post-Christmas (adj.) – In retail jargon, the few days immediately following 25 December, usually associated with the heavy discounting of holiday items to reduce inventory.

Bottomfeeder (noun) – In the world of retail, a bottomfeeder is a person that shops your store typically during sales/promotional periods and ONLY buys deeply discounted product.

Oh yeah, today was THAT day. If it had been a bad horror film, my day would have been titled “Attack of the Bottomfeeders,” or maybe “Bottomfeeder Frenzy” or even “Coven of the Evil Bottomfeeders.”

They always display the same characteristics: Bottomfeeders always travel in pairs. Bottomfeeders always ask for discounts above-and-beyond those listed. Bottomfeeders must all have poor eyesight because the things they say to each other within earshot of clerks – in this case, ME! – are borderline offensive and usually stupid. Can they not see me?

If my life were an episode of “Batman and Robin” (the TV series), my day would have been punctuated as follows (one last note – these remarks all actually were spoken today while I was at work):

Big-haired bottomfeeder to her friend: “Thank God I didn’t buy these ornaments LAST week and pay too much for them.” BTW? She didn’t buy them today, either!slapTall female bottomfeeder to me at check out: “Since I am paying you in cash, can you forget about the sales tax, or can I take another ornament for free?”

powAnd probably the most annoying remark of the day, spoken loudly to give me a chance to respond: “I like these Christmas trees but if they are 50% off this week, they will be 75% off next week, “ to which I replied, smiling, “I doubt if those will still be here next week.” The bottomfeeder looked at me and said, “You hope…”

punchListen, I get it – no one wants to overpay for anything. I mean, I myself am a bottomfeeder. However, I do show respect to sales clerks and retail employees and, quite honestly, have some couth. Most retail shoppers are really nice people, probably more than 99% of them, but it is always the not-so-nice ones we remember.

And we do…