A few weeks ago, I had a few moments to take in the surroundings from my desk at work. On most days, upon arriving at work, I turn on the computer, grab a cup of coffee, and get busy with emails and the paperwork at hand. I don’t always focus on what’s around me – the personal items that make this space a home away from home – because those items are always there. The lack of attention they receive from their owner is noted by the dust they collect or the lack of dust underneath them.
I was surprised by the result of my attention to those surroundings: I had quite a few reminders of people in my life hanging out in my office. People who are living and breathing, people who have gone to meet their maker. The reminders in my office made me smile with joy, yet also made me a little verklempt and sad. I spent a few moments thinking of what these items and the people behind them have meant to me, said a quick “I miss you” to the people who I can no longer talk to, and eventually went back to work.
This week, in moving and cleaning all of my “stuff” at home, I came across more reminders of those who have entered and affected my life. Many of the reminders at home are of my parents because I have family belongings and heirlooms that were given to me when they they moved out of their home and subsequently when they moved out of their apartment and into assisted living. I have other “treasures” around my apartment, such as the crayon picture of Ziva that has been hanging on my refrigerator for several years. It reminds me of a road trip with my dear friend, Judy, and her granddaughter, Willow, to my home, where they stayed for one night. Willow unmercifully paid attention to Gibbs and Ziva and then decided to draw a picture of Ziva, complete with the stripes on her face and a “meow” to add vocal interest. Here, at home, I take some of these items for granted because they are always in plain sight and always collecting dust of some depth.
Reminders of my “peeps” are also out in the world. It can be something as simple as picking out next year’s cat desk calendar, the pages of which will be written on and handed to my friend Natasha. (She will then be reminded of my dry sense of humor.) Shopping at a local farm and fleet reminds me of a past co-worker who used to say she liked the “smell of tires” upon entering the store. (Ummmm…OK…*rolls eyes*)
So, in honor of my reminders, I thought I would share a few pictures and the people behind these precious items.
Reminder #1 – The Plant Lady
My 35-year-long friend, The Plant Lady, cultivated my love of flowers and greenery. Over the years, we’ve shared plants and seeds and shared stories of our inner gardener. I visit with the plant lady a few times during the year because of distance and time, but I see her every day in my office. She gave me a little piece of her aloe plant, which has grown to be quite beautiful. If it keeps growing, I may need a bigger pot!
Reminder #2 – Mrs. Boehm
I used to work with Mrs. Boehm. She was all of 4’11”, with an adorable laugh. One year, she took a trip to Las Vegas. I asked her to bring back something “cheesy” that screamed Vegas. I expected an Elvis ashtray. Instead, I got a yellow smiley light. Mrs. Boehm and I were not on the same wavelength. Sadly, Mrs. Boehm passed away a couple of years ago and worse yet, many of her friends didn’t find out until the day after her funeral. The family must have decided on a private funeral. I’m still stunned that she passed at a fairly young age (in her 60’s), and I would have loved to have said “goodbye”. I realize now, though, that the yellow ball in my office is the best gift Mrs. Boehm could have given me. It reminds me of her – smiling and laughing – which might have been her intention all along.
Reminder #3 – J.N.
J.N. is another co-worker and a good friend. He was in my support circle as I was going through divorce. He understood the process as he had gone through it 10 years earlier. He listened, shared experience, offered assistance, and sent cards of encouragement. The one seen here is my favorite. I keep it in plain view on my desk, although I don’t stop to pay attention to it every day. The card is a reminder of the road I’ve traveled the last five years, but also of the wonderful friends I have and the support they have given me during this time. I still trying to be what I might have been and one day, I may get there. Thanks, J.N., for reminding me that my faith, friends and family are most important in my life and thanks for your support!
Reminder #4 – Mr. K
I dated Mr. K for about three months last year. We really hit it off and had fun while our relationship grew. Mr. K gave me this necklace after a work-related trip to Georgia. He wanted to thank me for the chocolate chip cookies I brought with me on a prior date. Awwww, that was sweet. We had very similar tastes and interests and I had thoughts of how awesome the summer would be as we’d take day trips on his Harley or go wine tasting or just hang out and burn something on his grill. Then, Mr. K. dropped the bomb that his employer had offered him a sweet deal for a new job in Georgia and he had accepted. My heart sunk because after just three months, he had already found a little place in my heart. Dammitall. It’s now a year later. I’ve dated others, but have not found anyone who comes close to the comfort and ease I felt with Mr. K. The necklace is a reminder of the relationship bar that Mr. K set for others. It’s a good bar, because I told myself early on, when I decided to date, not to “settle” for a relationship that didn’t seem right. I don’t want to settle for anything less than what is loving, comfortable and true because it wouldn’t be fair to me or the person I am dating. When I see the necklace hanging in my bedroom, it reminds me of Mr. K and to be patient in my dating life.
Reminder #5 – Dad
Without question, this is my favorite reminder. This dracaena was given to me by co-workers when my dad passed away a year ago. I see it every day that I go to work. It’s right there, on the other side of my office door. I see it when I turn on the light. I see it when I reach for the work piled on my in-basket. I see it when I leave at the end of the day. Although there are reminders in my office and at home that I don’t always pay attention to, this reminder is different. While it does remind me that I dearly miss my dad every day, it also reminds me of his 95-year life and everything that I inherited or learned from him. Dad was a gardener, so this is a fitting reminder of his snapdragons, beans, raspberries and anything else he could grow in the yard. The twisted branches remind me of his crazy, dry sense of humor. One could also say that the carefully formed branches are a reminder of how he formed his daughter into the good person she is today (at least I hope so, dad). The green leaves remind me that life goes on with mom, my brother, friends, and co-workers – that life is precious no matter how long you’re on this planet. I profusely thanked the co-workers that bought me this plant, but I don’t think they really understand what it means to me. It’s a very big deal. I pray that the dracaena stays strong, stays living, and keeps reminding me of dad.
Do you have strong reminders of the people in your life? Please, feel free to share what they are and what they mean to you.