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Things I Need around MeAs much as I dislike turning to a cliché’, stating that “we’re all are creatures of habit” it best describes my motivation as I live each day. I am that creature of habit especially during leisure, and the material things that support my habits are the things I need around me, my collections. They make me smile.I love to read and explore, therefore I collect magazines and books. I love to garden, therefore I save seeds and value my collection of garden tools, I love drawing, therefore I have favorite writing implements and paper and of course a variety of erasers to accommodate changes to my creations. I love to paint, therefore I have my favorite collection of brushes and several palettes of paint full of yummy colors. I love to capture time and events, therefore I collect hundreds, no, thousands of photographs with my camera. I love the internet, therefore my laptop is always close by. I love peanut butter, therefore I always keep extra jars in the pantry. I love my family, friends and pets, therefore I keep framed photos on my walls and change them often with great updates. I love entertainment, history and travel, therefore I have a TV in my kitchen as well as my living room. These are only a few of my favorite things, therefore while those are material things, they are the things I need to make my retirement days happy ones.But how many of them do I really need? I need all of them, some more than others. That said, I realize that I am privileged to have them at all, and one day may not be able to enjoy some of them due to failing health or other reasons. I’m a very fortunate and grateful person for all I do have, especially for peanut butter!What defines me? All of them define me.What would have to be taken away from me before I lost my sense of self? Not having the tangible things that relate to family, friends, and pets would strip me of personal treasures that make me happy, like the photographs, collectibles, heirlooms, and personal things that I hold so dear, especially those of loved ones that have passed on, things other than my leisure things. There are not a lot of them, but some are priceless to me and are priceless items that I love to look at or hold because they bring back recollections from another time in my life. I live my life looking forward, as positively and hopeful as possible; however I cannot resist hanging onto a few items which represent where I’ve been, for they are the remnants of who I am and tie me to people in my past; people I felt I wanted to know even better; people I would have liked to have shared more in life, comforted them when they were down or ill, and do things with them that make them smile; people I really miss.For instance, the cameo gold ring designed for my aunt in the 1940’s by my father, a jeweler, and given to me by her twenty years later, so that I’d have something of my father’s. I never knew him or anything about him because he and my mother divorced when I was three and he died quite young, tragically, in his 40’s. I’d like to think I inherited his artistic ability. The ring is my only connection to him and his family. I wish I had known him. I know he was a very tall and handsome man with dark hair evident from faded photos which I found in an old photo album my mother kept in her 20’s and 30’s. A very old friend of our family once told me that he was a really great guy, before alcohol became the priority in his life and was sadly the cause of his early demise.For instance, the curved chopping tool with the wooden handle and its companion, a much worn shallow wooden bowl that belonged to my very English Granny. She used it for finely chopping equal parts of fresh leaf lettuce and parsley from her lush garden at the far end of her fenced yard. She’d spread the flavorful mix on buttered brown bread for my lunch when I visited her. The child in me needs those treasures to remind me what a beautiful person my Granny was, the person who always had time for me. The person whose life was so simple, yet every day was so full, and the person I wished to emulate when I grew up.For instance, the beautiful drum our son made with his own hands from purple heart wood left over from a construction project he completed for a client. He died, but I still hear him speak in beautiful tones when I beat that drum. I need that for my motherheart, just as I need his T-shirt with his smell that is stored in a trunk with a few of his other belongs, and his safari shirt that I wear when I garden, or the Carhart jacket his father and I share when fishing on chilly days.What have I lost that caused me to lose my sense of self? I lost my sense of self when I lost my beautiful boy, likewise, losing any of his cherished belongings that we keep near and dear would be an overwhelming loss. While it would be regretful to lose any of those items, I’m a survivor, so I live in peace knowing that his essence is always with me as I carry him around in a special pocket of my heart, and all I have to do is reach in and he’s there any time I want him to be. All parents know this about their children.What a thought provoking exercise in writing for me. Thank you Abigail.
How beautifully written this is, MJ. The beloved bits and pieces we hold so dear because of the memories they spark have come alive in your essay. You touched my heart with your ending. Thank you for sharing this.