A Wagon Filled With Memories
“Let’s clean out the garage today.”
How did this statement come from my mouth? If I had typed these words, I could have highlighted the sentence and pressed the delete key before anyone saw it. However, like all words, once they’re spoken in front of witnesses, you can’t take them back. Mattie, my wife, quickly seconded the idea and Jessie, my 9-year-old daughter, made it unanimous.
I then pointed out what I saw as the most likely problem in tackling this massive project — too many supervisors.
“We can only have one supervisor!” I emphasized. Jessie’s hand shot up from the kitchen table, at which point I recognized that I need to raise my hand faster or yell “Me!” when I end such sentences.
Besides attempting to tackle this project with two supervisors — yes, Mattie also likes to lead — I knew our personalities would enter into play. There’s Mr. Sentimental (me). I know Jessie can’t use her pink ball glove anymore, but we have to keep it forever. Then there’s Mrs. Clutterfree (Mattie). “We haven’t used it in the last five years. Take it to Goodwill.” Finally, there’s Miss Open Every Box. “What’s in that box? Let’s pull that box down.” We weren’t into this project long before I concluded that a trip to the dentist for a root canal would have been more fun.
At day’s end, I was pleased with our progress. The car would have to stay parked in the driveway for the night since the garage floor was covered with everything, but family harmony is more important. Did we have differences of opinion? Yes. Did I go to bed exhausted? You bet. Will I get to be the supervisor for day two of garage cleaning? Like Jessie’s odds of getting a horse for her next birthday, not a chance.
Though I had been dreading this project, we relived special memories. Mattie and I pulled out possessions we hadn’t seen in years — and that Jessie had never seen. One box contained love letters and poems I wrote to Mattie before we were married. Jessie and Mattie laughed when I read one letter aloud. I can’t believe I wrote such mushy stuff — and it worries me a little that I have no recollection of writing it.
Jessie said she could part with her tiny red wagon. Mattie, Mrs. Clutterfree, said, “We can’t give that away. That’s where Jessie had her apple sales.” Jessie’s preschool class once took a field trip to an apple orchard. We filled her bag in no time. When we got home, we decided to have an apple sale. We made a sign that said, “Apples For Sale – Only 25 Cents.” Jessie loaded her apples into her little red wagon and set up shop with her newly acquired red and green inventory. We had so much fun selling and buying apples, learning about money, giving change, and talking about how to run a successful business that we repeated the process after Halloween with Jessie’s trick-or-treat candy.
My most sentimental moment came when I pulled a sign away from the wall and found half of a pink, plastic Easter egg. Jessie hid plastic eggs long after Easter had ended. To make hide-and-seek last longer, she split each egg in half. I, Mr. Sentimental, said, “Oh, I’m keeping this.” Of course, Mrs. Clutterfree’s immediate response was, “Trash!”
The garage cleanup will probably take several more days. Will I find the other half of the pink egg? Mattie better hope not, because if I do I’m saving it, and I’ll store it in Jessie’s tiny red wagon.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and author of a monthly column titled “moMENts.” Follow Hempfing at facebook.com/patricklhempfing and twitter.com/patrickhempfing.