Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Taking Care

image from MyTinyTree
Years ago, when I was pretty small, I tagged along with my father as he did some off-season preparation for his sailboat. I loved going with him any time of year -- I was far too little to be of any help, so I spent my time playing with brand-new best friends (it's so easy to make friends as a child, isn't it?) on the yacht club lawn, climbing in the rocks at low-tide while pretending the nooks and crannies were swimming pools and different rooms of a home, picking up and returning hermit crabs, and if I was lucky, enjoying a root beer at a barbecue.

The reason I remember this particular trip was off-season is because we sat together on a dock to eat the sandwiches my father (or mother?) had packed up for us. While we sat there, eating and watching the water, I saw a camel-colored mitten float right past us. I told my father, "Oh, someone lost his mitten. He's going to be sad." But before my father could agree, I realized that the mitten looked rather familiar, and I checked my pockets... Somehow, I had lost my mitten! It wasn't just someone who would be sad -- it was me!

My father ran to retrieve a large 2x4, but the cold current was strong, and the mitten was out of reach by the time he sprinted back.

Oddly, the mitten that lost its partner decades ago is still in my mother's house, in a drawer full of winter accessories. I loved it so much that even now when I see it, I can't quite bring myself to throw it away. Every time I see it, I remember that day at the dock, and the many times my father huffed a few warm breaths into those mittens on a cold day before handing them to me to put on. As an adult, I am now also struck by wonder and appreciation for my mother, who bought such beautiful high-quality wool mittens for her very small child.

It may be that this moment as a child, and the many reminders of it I've had since as I've rooted around in that drawer, helped shape my need to take good care of what I own, especially the expensive things.

I wish I could say I don't still occasionally loose things -- I lost a pair of gloves just a few weeks ago -- but while they are in my possession, I do my best to take a moment to do all the little things my mother taught me to take care of my possessions. Sometimes it may feel like life would be easier without worrying about the things we own, but if a few minutes here and there can help to keep something last longer, I think it's worth the time.


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"There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- God damn it, you've got to be kind."
-Kurt Vonnegut