What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

– 2014 (for every shed there is a gain)

Facebook (which, despite a thousand frustrations, I’m not yet shedding because it serves as a conduit of connection to my Mom) offered me its view of my year in review. I didn’t look, because I knew the algorithm wouldn’t have a clue. Looking back at WIST myself, I see a year of painful losses, significant shedding, and gains I’m grateful for.

It’s upon the latter I’m drawn to reflect in this ultimate entry for the year. Nimue and I gained clarity about what we need and want and what, on the other hand, just clutters the lives we want to live. We gained some momentum toward getting closer to that elusive goal.

I’m most grateful for the company I’ve gained on the journey to a less consumptive and cluttered and more simple, sustainable, satisfying, and aware life. Thank you, commentors and fellow bloggers! On your journeys (which I hope will continue to cross ours), goodspeed!

shedding style: release

Comments welcome … as we’ve asked all along… what might you shed today?

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– fishing rod transport tube

In a pattern with so few instances one could hardly see it, I fish only spasmodically, and then mostly by invitation. Nevertheless, I have a fly rod and some gear (which could prove a fruitful category for future sheds). Furthermore, at some point I learned that a fishing pole is an unwieldy, fragile object that doesn’t take well to having a car’s door closed upon it.

So, one afternoon while on a camping vacation at Hatteras (which, somewhat surprisingly, included a good deal of fishing), I found the only building supply store on the island and bought a length of pvc pipe, fittings, and cement. I had enough materials to make two fishing rod transport tubes. I put my rod in one and gave the other to Dad. Like me, he hardly fished enough to need a tube to store rods in, but he graciously thanked me for it.

That happened, let’s see … during a summer twenty-eight years ago. Long ago I completely forgot about the tubes, but while decluttering Dad’s shop earlier this month, I found the one I gave him, stood up in a barrel with other long, skinny things.

spare the rod ... children and fish will be better off for it

spare the rod … children and fish will be better off for it

After a moment of tenderness (“Awwh, he kept it”), I decided I’d best take responsibility for it again. I brought it back to Georgia and offered it to my friend Sam, who really does fish. I hope I didn’t just shift something unneeded from my garage to his, but he did seem glad to have it. Oh, and he wants to take me fishing. I managed to locate my rod in a dark corner, safe in its transport tube, so I don’t have that lack for an excuse. The trip might happen. But fish need not fear; they’re in little danger from me.

shedding style: give away
destination: Sam’s fishing gear

Comments welcome … what of the past almost invisibly clings?

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– Dad’s ties

I could not, would not chide my departed Dad for having 43 ties. A terrestrial life of 91 years crosses a lot of Father’s Days (an occasion for gift-giving on the third Sunday of June in the US). I’m personally responsible for at least a few in his collection, and I’m touched that he kept the especially extra-wide and eye-popping one ca. 1973.

Nimue laid them out grouped by patterns, paisleys, stripes, solids, and textures. I think every male scion and one female took at least one tie except me … I have enough of my own to thin. The rest went to Opportunity House.

Dad's ties before sons, daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons made their choices. I think youngster Ethan is using his as a bookmark ... hey, why not?

Dad’s ties before sons, daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons made their choices. I think youngster Ethan is using his as a bookmark … hey, why not?

shedding style: give away
destination: Opportunity House

Comments welcome … when you tie one on, do you have more than enough options from which to chose?

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– Dad’s hats

Our uncle, Dad’s brother Jim, enjoys shopping for bargains. Even more, he loves sharing them. Over the last few years, Jim sent my parents several “care packages” of clothes he thought Dad might be able to use. Along with shirts and sweaters, each contained a hat (or three, or five).

Dad settled on two which he found comfortable and warm. Except when he had to go to a hospital, I suppose he wore one or the other every day of the last few years of his life. He even slept in them. They were nearly as worn out as his body at the end, and I felt a great upwelling of gratitude and bittersweet regret when they went in a wastebasket.

On his closet shelf were several spares. With yet more gratitude for the care they represent, to Opportunity House they go.

cat in the hats

cat in the hats

shedding style: give away
destination: Opportunity House

Comments welcome … is it possible that our consumerist economy is dwarfed by an economy of giving and gratitude?

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+ a Christmas WIST

A merry and happy Christmas to all from Nimue and revdarkwater!  In silent nights and days of light to come, may we all shed some fear so there’s more room for love!

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– Dad’s blue jeans

My father had a wild streak that liked shooting off roman candles and seeing how fast a car could go. Every now and then he let it get the wheel. In his late sixties, while he was still reporting to work five days a week to lead a department of engineers, he stopped shaving or going to his barber. In a few months he looked so much like Willie Nelson that someone earnestly asked him for an autograph.

It was that streak in his soul, I think, that loved dressing in faded denim so much that his closet and dresser held 13 pairs of blue jeans and two of jean shorts (one of them cut-offs).

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Concerning their disposition, one brother wrote, “If the jean shorts are the coveted ones with more patches than original denim, it would be nice to have them framed.” I agree, but I fear that particular pair may have dissolved in a wash cycle. We’ll keep looking, though.

My brother-in-law will try some of the pants for size, but most, I expect, will join the growing shipment headed for Opportunity House.

shedding style: give away
destination: Opportunity House

Comments welcome … does your inner wild child have some claim on your space? Much as WIST believes that less is more, we think she or he deserves a share!

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– Dad’s shoes

I traded my bafflement over the belts for sympathy when looking at Dad’s shoes. We found a few survivors of earlier days in his closet: work boots that fit me, two pairs of the lovely wing-tips he favored that my brother will try on when he gets in for Christmas, and athletic shoes. But most were either slippers or the “old guy,” velcro-fastened footware Dad wore in his infirmity. To the thrift store they go. I hope some other old guy will be happy to step into his shoes.

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shedding style: give away
destination: Opportunity House

Comments welcome … are your shoes serving the life you live?

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– Dad’s belts

A week has passed since my father died. I still feel very close to him. I think I would in any case, but it’s helped that we’ve been looking through photos and sharing stories while I’ve been editing his memoir of sailing in the United States Maritime Service during WWII.

Much as I love him, well as I think I knew him, he could puzzle me still, and today he did. So that my Mom wouldn’t have to, Nimue and I assumed the task of sorting through his clothes. Most of them will go to Opportunity House, a local charity and thrift store, but I’ve accepted the bequest of a shirt and work boots. (In our respective middle ages, Dad and I were about the same size.) My brothers might make use of a few other items, and my brother-in-law will see if his sweaters fit.

They may try on Dad’s belts, too, but I expect we’ll wind up shedding most if not all of them. Such a plurality of belts! And that’s what surprised me, how many were hanging in his closet.

I don’t have a dress code, but cultural expectations lead me to dress “professionally” on frequent occasion. Dad modeled it for me, and I would have said I learned most of my tastes and practices from him. Granted that I try to keep it simple, I have only one belt … whereas Dad had fifteen.

Fifteen belts, Dad … why? And why did you keep eight that are cracked, splitting, or fraying along a seam? Okay, this one here, I see, must have been your “painting” belt. But after that, and one good black and one good brown belt, how many did you need?

Fox says, "They make good toys; I love to chase a belt!"

Fox says, “They make good toys; I love to chase a belt!”

I know he, in turn, might ask me why I intend to throw away belts that are perfectly good (well, except for some splits, cracking, and loose threads). Much as we were alike, we weren’t the same. And actually, I think he loved that about me. I love it about him.

shedding style: throw away
destination: the landfill

Comments welcome … what did you learn, and not learn, from your parents about “stuff”?

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run to the sea

The curtains have been mostly drawn here at WIST the last couple of weeks. I haven’t given up on the project, but I likely won’t be posting much for several days more.

Three weeks ago my father was enrolled in hospice care. He didn’t have a progressive terminal disease so much as his body just wore out after 91 years. Nimue and I have been going back and forth between our home in Georgia and Mom and Dad’s in East Tennessee, taking turns with my siblings and their spouses as we’ve helped Mom with Dad’s care.

Yesterday morning, in the thin hours before dawn, he left this life.

What I shed today is about letting go … can there be any greater? WIST is also about gaining something. There’s gain, I’m learning, in every release.

Sometime on Saturday or Sunday, Nimue thought she heard Dad murmur, “It’s time to go back to the beginning and start again.”

20141216-dlj-DSC_8071-eBack when they were still young men, U2 wrote a song for a funeral of a friend. In it Bono sings, “You run like a river to the sea.” I thought of that yesterday as I returned to my parent’s home that sits by an old mill dam on Jockey Creek. It flows on to Big Limestone Creek, which joins the Nolichucky River, which drains into the French Broad. The French Broad conflows with the Holston to form the Tennessee. That long waterway touches four states before it finally empties into the Ohio. The generous Ohio gives its waters to the mighty Mississippi. And the misi-ziibi, the “Great River,” goes to the Gulf of Mexico … the sea.

Does a drop of water know where it’s going when it falls over the dam? Does it dream of, at long last, reaching la Mer?

Bye, Dad. I hope to see you when I come to my time of letting go of the limits of temporality. Till then, though we commend your spirit to God, we keep your life in the salty waters of our memories and love.

Oh, great ocean
Oh, great sea
Run to the ocean
Run to the sea

―U2, “One Tree Hill”

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– any desire at all to own a handgun

Sweet Jesus of Nazareth, why?

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