Garage Cleaning

Cleaning the garage was one of my greatest challenges because there were memories I had to let go. It was not just a matter of making three discard piles – electronic recyclables, clothing and garbage. If there had been no feelings involved, I could have done the job quickly.

But there was more to it than that. I had to take into account my feelings as I came across things like two ticket stubs to a baseball game from the year I was 15. That was my first official date and my father insisted on escorting my girlfriend of the day to the baseball park’s gate and picking us up later on. How embarrassing!

I found a baby book belonging to my oldest daughter, in it a lock of her blond hair cut off at age one. I remember what a happy time her first birthday had been – one guest, one candle and her mother preparing things as if for a queen. She was, in fact, our little princess.

In an old chest I found a box of condolence cards that had come by mail following my father’s death. I was living a thousand miles away and was lonesome beyond words when he died because I felt we had never reconciled our differences.

Memories from three stages in life…hard to let them go! Now I was in my final years, ready to climb the stairway to heaven. What would I tell St. Peter when asked about my relationships? How had things been between my father and me, and with my three daughters?

I sat on a stool in the garage, choked up. Things could have been better with my father if I had not been such a rebellious son, and with my daughters, had I spent more time with them.

Now my father was gone and my daughters were grown, managing households of their own and with loving partners raising my grandchildren.

I stayed in the garage a little while longer, a tear now trickling down my cheek.

Then the tear dried and the garage was still a mess….had to keep at it. I threw things onto the three piles, letting go of the artifacts of my past.

Other discoveries that evoked long-forgotten memories from childhood brought happy thoughts, and I chose to dwell on them, rather than on those that made me sad.

Had to keep working. Soon the sun would set. Soon it would be time to sit in my easy chair in the living room to read the baby book I had saved for my daughter.

Next day I called to ask her if she wanted it. Perhaps she would like to look at it together with me?

Irvin James Kroeker

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