Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trespassing on Trails of Time Gone By

Here, on the long folding table borrowed from church, someone’s life is on display. Tools for woodworking, kitchen gadgets ordered from a catalog store and tangled tinsel.

Among office and household items, there’s a set of Homer Lauglin dishes, treasured by someone, somewhere, at some place in time, way back when.

A setting for eight “As Is” for two dollars with one dinner plate missing, a cracked creamer and only two salad bowls left to speak of.

A lonely exhausted rocking horse sits on the edge of the driveway next to a broken paper shredder and a crusty humidifier.

A greasy mower and bent weed eater stand side-by-side as sentinel soldiers with dried out clumps of grass clippings stuck proudly, as medals of valor pinned to a soldiers’ uniform.

Over there on an old wobbly card table, a dainty bouquet of roses and baby’s breath delicately rises from a sparkling crystal vase.

In sharp contrast, a tired old terrycloth bathrobe is neatly folded next to pair of once fluffy bedroom sleepers now worn flat.

The value here among scratched vinyl records from 1965 and a like-new ironing board circa 1970 is not monetary; no, not at all.

Where is the value in the one-dollar price tags? Is it in the need for a good used what-cha-ma-call-it? Possibly.

Or does the value here solely reside in relationships – connections between seller and former owner, between wife and deceased husband, son and ailing father, between mother and daughter, grandfather and grandson.

All this stuff – some would call junk – represents the treasures of a life lived with trial and toil.

Amid the many miscellaneous items is a well-trodden path of hope and heartache, a journey of pain and promise.

Here are the tattered kitchen towels, singed oven mitts and a men’s1950 Gillette hand razor. It’s still in the original case with “Made in the U.S.A.” stamped on the faded purple velvet lining inside the cover.
The now dulled stainless steel blade once smoothed a gentleman’s bristly five-o’clock shadow to a noticeably smooth freshness.

I imagine this old razor was used countless times to clean up before and after a day of work, maybe at the shop or in the fields, making him presentable over and over and over again.

Nervously gliding among these makeshift aisles, I distinctly feel as though I am trespassing in a private place where men's suits and women's dresses once embraced high and low points as they passed through thresholds of joy and misery.

I step lightly amid an array of used household items and sewing notions, relating ever so closely to the woman whose heart was intrinsically intertwined with this life. And, I imagine the many ways she so skillfully kept this family intact with quiet ingenuity and instinct.

If her husband were here, he might say she was the glue of this unheralded marriage for upwards of 60 years. Today, the remnants of this union, which she made seem so perfect, line the perimeter of the garage and spill out to the curb.

Nestled in fishing gear, old books and lots of interesting knick-knacks are memories of a life lived to the fullest – frugal and sometimes frenetic, but always very familiar.

Here, on the long folding table borrowed from church, someone’s life is on display. It is a worn, subtly pensive place with a heroic and cautiously hopeful glossary.

2011 © Copyright Paula Damon. A Sioux City-area resident, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamonpaula@gmail, follow her blog at my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on FaceBook.

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