Okay, I didnt’ really go Dumpster-diving.
I went to visit my dear friend Margot today. Margot, who is a widowed octogenarian, has recently had trouble with flooding in her basement. Therefore, I really wasn’t surprised when she showed me the bags of papers and keepsakes she was throwing away. But, as I looked through them . . . at the black-and-white photographs, at her husband’s elementary school report cards, at the World War II dog tags, the hoarder in me took over.
“Margot,” said I tremulously, “you’re . . . throwing these away?”
“Yes, it’s a shame, isn’t it, Dear? But I called the city, and they said that they’d be okay in the recycling.”
A beast reared up inside my heart. It said, “NOOOOOO!!!!!!”
I said, real casual-like, hoping she wouldn’t suspect my internal state of panic, “Margot, can I have some of this stuff?”
Yeah, that’s right; I pretty much Dumpster-dived through an old lady’s recycling today.
I brought home photographs, post cards, and old Christmas cards, but the real cream of the crop that I picked up today was a bundle of letters from Margot’s husband, to his mother and sisters during WWII. I’ve read through a couple of them, and the memories they contain, the emotions and struggles of long ago, they all seem so real to me.
I may be mistaken, but this might just be the best Christmas present I get this year. I love this stuff.
Margot made me the usual cup of Earl Grey tea, and we had a good, long chat. She reminisced about the past as I read her things that long-forgotten girl-friends had written to her husband in high school. “Ah, but we didn’t meet until college, so that was okay,” she smiled as I read aloud:
Warren, the way you treated me at dinner at the Wilson’s wasn’t fit for a dog, but I forgive you. Good luck and best wishes!! We’ll see you after the war. ~Mildred
“if he was only here, there would be so much to tease him about!” Margot laughed.
I think about Margot and Warren, and about the full lives they lived. Warren’s passed on, and Margot will too, some day. And so will I, and so will you.
Life is short. What should I leave behind?
I hope it’s something good; I think it will be, though. I think it will be.
That Girl That Collects Random Old People’s Stuff