Memories Vs. Minimization

What to do?

On one hand, I find myself wondering why I keep some of these things. I can't stand clutter. When my house or office starts to get cluttered up, I feel stressed and anxious. I like organized, clean and clear.

But then, I also wish that I had saved the Christmas cards that Sweet Hubs' Grandpa sent us. I don't have anything with Grandpa's handwriting on it.

You see, I realized the other day that I can't exactly remember my Dad's voice. I can easily bring to mind his jeweler's scarred hands, and the sharp hairline, so high at the sides. I can make an instant mental picture of how he sat with his legs crossed. But his voice? Not so much.

All these years later, I see my father's handwriting on something and my heart catches in my throat. I have many pictures of him, of my grandmothers....  but very little of my Sweet Hubs' Grandpa. I should have saved something.

And in the very next breath, I look around at all the bits and pieces that I've saved and ask myself, "Why am I saving this?" It must be some kind of memory vs. minimize schizo phase I'm going through.

Ugly Bagels

I made bagels.  I don't know what I did wrong. They taste great but they're uglier than a mud fence. As in butt-ugly. Coyote UGLY.

The bread looks picture perfect. The bagels, not so much. My grandpa, the baker, would have been mighty disappointed in me.

I made eggplant parmigiana. Except I accidentally bought low-fat mozzarella. I wasn't wearing my glasses. What, exactly, IS low-fat mozzarella? It didn't melt and brown and get all wonderfully gooey and crispy-cheesy. It just kind laid there, like a lazy white dog on a hot day. It didn't drip down over the sides of the eggplant slices. It didn't get those wonderful bubbles of brown goodness. I'm sorry to tell you that it didn't do much of anything. I might as well have topped my lovely eggplant with tofu. Blecchhhh. Mom's friend Carmella would have been mighty disappointed in me.

Lately I've been having trouble with my menu planning. I guess I'm too many years distant from my education in Home Economics. It has happened time and time again. I look down at the dinner I've prepared, and I notice that everything is the same shape or the same color or something. One night, everything was white. Chicken breasts, mashed potatoes and cauliflower. Or round. As in meatballs, baby red potatoes and green peas. Good color combinations, but everything was round. My home-ec teacher would be mighty disappointed in me.

I've been walking around with a button missing from my coat...all winter, I think. Momma taught me how to sew. I can certainly sew on a button! It's a good thing Momma lives a few hours away and never sees me in my coat, or she'd be disappointed in me, too!

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Snapshot

He came in to work today. Part-time back-office kind of help. A quick study. A tall man. Handsome, wearing black on black. I joke with him: "Can you say, 'Hello. I'm Johnny Cash.'?" And he says it perfectly.

The office manager teaches him a couple new things. I give him a list of things to do. Please add this account, please update this file, please send these to the home office. Please scan these to the client file.

A tall man. Handsome.

My baby boy.

Happy Birthday, Dad

You would have been 82 today. I've missed you every day since you died; was it really almost 17 years ago?

I can't give you birthday presents anymore, but I often think about the gifts you gave me through the years. So today, on your birthday, I thought I'd say 'thanks' for some of those, in no particular order:

Thanks for the gift of stubbornness. It's a mixed blessing, to be sure, but it's mostly a gift. It keeps me on the right track most of the time, and helps me get what I want.

Thanks for your deep-set eyes and long lashes.

Thank you for giving me a deep and abiding faith. I'm sorry I don't practice it in a way that you would have understood, but I think that you understand now. You're looking at it from a different vantage point.

Thank you for sheltering me through my childhood. I didn't have to race through my childhood in some misguided attempt to be a grown up. I got the opportunity to chase butterflies, and sit out under the stars at night, and camp in my bedroom in a refrigerator box, and go fishing with you, and.....

Thank you for the example of a strong and reliable marriage. I think that one reason why I chose the man I did was because he reminded me somewhat of you. I'm thankful every day that I married him, he is a true treasure. Your example helped me choose him.

Thank you for being the most wonderful grandpa any little boy could have for those six brief years you got with him. He cherishes you and that time with you still.

Thank you for the bedtime stories. And for bringing me a box of candy hearts every Valentine's Day. Thank you for teaching me how to waltz, and for every time you ooo'd and ahhh'd over my new dress. Thank you for the proud look on your handsome face when you walked me down the aisle, and for the tender respect you gave my husband. Thank you for teaching me the constellations, and the words to all those Mitch Miller songs.

Thank you for making my wedding ring, my mother's ring and all the other lovely works of art in gold and silver which I cherish to this day. Sweet Hubs never has to worry that I'll be wanting a bigger diamond or a new wedding set. I bet he thanks you for that!

I had a wonderful childhood. You were protective and patient and a perfect example of gentle masculinity. You were also stubborn and opinionated and extremely conservative. I loved those things about you and I like them in myself because of you.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.