Friday, May 15, 2009

One man's Treasures.

"Don’t look in the attic."

Remember that movie? There were also “Don’t look in the basement”,” Don’t look under the stairs”, and “Don’t look behind you”. I was a horror movie junkie when I was younger. If I watched anything like that these days I would have nightmares. What about; “Don’t look in the back yard”? Remember that one? I remember it like it was yesterday. It wasn’t a movie; it was the story of my life as a child.

My father was a saver. I am not talking about him being a lifesaver although as a fireman he was that as well. He had the mentality that a lot of people growing up in the depression era had that you should never, ever throw anything away because one day you just might need it. (might=probably won’t) Because of that, our backyard resembled a junkyard. Over the years that junk managed to work its way around to the sides of the house, into the garage and at times even into the front yard. Just picture Sanford and Son times 10.

I spent many days cleaning and trying to straighten the things up but with that much junk laying around it was just about impossible to make the yard presentable. There were little pockets of neatness that I carved out for myself like the garden area and a small area under the oak trees that served as my sanctuary but for the most part it was just piles of junk. And junk was really all it was. There were motor parts, pieces of old rusty sheet metal, more tires than I could count, wire, screen, tons of glass and little parts from who knows what. You know; valuable stuff. Or at least it was valuable to my father.

Once, my mother decided to get even with him for going away on a trip with his friends. She had me load up the truck and take as much stuff to the dump as we could haul. She had me do it because I was the only one living at home that cared and because I could drive a stick shift. We hauled junk for two days and when we were finished, we hadn’t even made a dent in it. When dad came back from his trip, he and my mother didn’t speak for three or four days. Of course Mom threw my name into the pot so Dad wasn’t too happy with me for while either. But soon he got over it and before long he had everything replaced with new treasures.

My problem with the mess was that I was ashamed of the way we lived. I was beginning to have friends and they wanted to come over but I managed to keep them at bay for years and years. Well up until the most embarrassing day of my life. I was a junior in High school. All of my friends were well off and lived in really nice houses with clean yards and some even had yard maintenance men. I had been to all of their homes but none of them had been past my front yard. If any of them ever came over to give me a ride somewhere, I was standing out by the street a half hour before they were supposed to arrive. Maybe that is why to this day, I like to get where I am going early. That’s something to think about.

That day in school I mentioned to a friend that our dog had recently had puppies. She said she loved puppies and wanted to see them so I told her I would bring them by her house to show them to her. She insisted that it would be easier for her to stop by my house to see them. Fear shot through my body like an electric shock at the sound of those words. All that day at school, I worried about it and finally came up with a plan. I would build a small pen (God knows I had plenty of wire laying around) and bring the puppies out front thereby keeping my friends out of the backyard. I knew that this just might work. So that day after school, I rushed home to put my plan in action.

I ran into the house and dropped off my school things and told my father what I planned to do. Of course he said to just bring the friends around to the backyard because in his words “it aint that bad”. Just then my mother said with a smile on her face; “your friends are here”. Mom always got a certain amount of pleasure pitting us against dad and she knew this was a golden opportunity. So I rushed out the front door in an effort to head them off but they were nowhere to be seen. I ran around the house, hoping and praying that I could beat them to the backyard but no luck. They were at the gate and to my intense shame saw our junky back yard. They petted the puppies for a few moments over the fence and then I hurried them away. I was so embarrassed that I almost cried when they left and for a long time, I had trouble facing them.

When I think back, I try to tell myself that it was no big deal. But it was a big deal for me back then. The truth is none of those treasures that my dad kept were really worth anything to anyone but him. In the end he just left them all behind and went on his way. And the only thing left today are a few scars that I still carry. But I did learn something from all this and I am realizing it more and more as I get older. You can’t take it with you no matter how you try. In the end, you leave with nothing. In the end, Donald Trump will leave this world with no more than Donald Cushing. So with all your possessions gone your worth is what’s inside of you. I wonder what God will say to Donald Trump as he stands before him? Perhaps: “Donald…You’re Fired”? But only God knows that.

Proverbs 11:4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Have a wonderful weekend,


Breeze said...

Interesting post. I work really hard to make our home a place where the kids can be proud to bring their friends. Tidy(relatively, it's a kid's house) and clean and cookies in the cookie jar to share.

I am a purger...I'd have very few belongings if my husband wasn't a keeper...yes he keeps everything..we have the biggest garage in the neighbourhood and I can't park in it.

Thanks for sharing...are you super tidy because of this experience?


skoots1mom said... have poured out your heart today and this post is awesome.
you could make this into a really neat kid's book, too!
thanks for sharing your remembrances and is so true.
My granny used to say "you come into this world alone, and leave alone, so you better be right with the Lord as your best friend, he's the one who counts."

Terri Tiffany said...

Awesome post!! I about cried reading it---as I understand those emotions. My mom was a clutterer and I used to clean for days before I had a party there. This was an excellent story written from the heart:))

The Dental Maven said...

Greg, I just realized...we might be related!

Pam from alertandorientedx4 said...

Wow...powerful post. Both of my parents were 'keepers,' and unfortunately, as the twig is bent. I am slowly but surely making dents in the pkg, but it's a process....paperwork is the bain of my existence. There are PILES and PILES of it all over my desk and the floor surrounding...sigh

Chatty Kelly said...

What a really great and reflective post Greg. Thanks for sharing.

Isn't it sad that we are often judged by our parents when we had no control? And your beautiful yard with all the flowers must be a source of pride for your children.

Bless your heart!

Chatty Kelly said...

p.s. I just saw you won the give away at Truth 4 the Journey. KUDOs! She is one of my best friends (in REAL life, not just bloggy world), and since I introduced y'all so to speak, I feel fabulous! So enjoy the book!

Katherine Aucoin said...

What a powerful and true post. This meant a lot to me. Have a great weekend!

Becky said...

And when God says you're fired He's talking flame broiled. Great post Greg, really got me thinking.

Jenny wren's nest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny wren's nest said...

Greg, I feel your pain, My mom was a avid rummage sale shopper and bought carloads of junk, or "treasure", it all ended up in the main entrance of our house,where we had a large sun room, it made it hard to date because my parents insisted on meeting the my Date. HOW EMBARESSING!!!


Suzanne Casamento said...

I really enjoyed your story. It's moments like those, when we're kids and vulnerable and desperately need to fit in and we're so sharply shown that we don't, that unfortunately form parts of who we are as adults. It was a big deal and it's totally okay that it was.

Thank you for sharing.

ChrisJ said...

Great post, Greg. I really do feel for you. I don't have a similar background. Quite the opposite in fact. In our fishing village all my friends were very poor and we were the 'rich' ones. I was embarrassed to be so 'posh'! But I made many good friends among those fishermen's children. You're right, it's what's in the heart that counts and I learned that early.

B His Girl said...

You never cease to catch me off guard Greg. B

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Oh, Greg, this is one of my favorites of yours. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably. I had a friend who lived the very same way growing up, so this situation is not new to me, but reading about it through your eyes has made me even more empathetic. And it was a good take-away point, too.

Carmen Gamble said...

Awesome, awesome post! I know people like this and though you love them, it's frustrating and embarrassing. Love the way you tied it all up in the end. Excellent post! Really loved it!

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