Mike & I try to find humor in every situation we find ourselves. It makes the funny times funnier and the not so great times, if not funny, at least bearable. Like when our car blew up on the way home from vacation (not a great time), or when we watched a lady trying to maneuver an automatic car wash (hilariously funny; we were both crying). Some day I’ll tell you about those.
Yesterday, however, we were in a situation that we just couldn’t find much humor in. Mike’s a realtor, and with the lousy economy, many of his listings these days are foreclosures. The nice thing about these is that the lenders just want to dump the properties, so we don’t have to convince them to keep the prices reasonable so they will sell. The sad thing is even though the homeowners are usually long gone by the time Mike gets on the scene, it’s still sad to see the pieces of their lives that they’ve left behind.
This weekend, we were working on one of these listings. We actually met the homeowners, and they’re such a sweet couple. So many times the whole process gets started because someone lost a job, or a contractor went way over the estimated price of building, or just bank screw-ups. Often, the owners have a limited time to leave the property, so they take just the essentials and leave everything else behind. And that usually means a huge mess of things they’ve sifted through and discarded for someone else to pick up. Which, of course, is us.
Mike wanted to get things cleaned up enough to get good photos, so I went around the yard, the porch and the deck with trash bags, just gathering debris. Since he was still working, I decided to head inside. And I almost cried. There were so many things – photos, knickknacks, pet toys and beds, clothes, and even dishes and furniture that they had left, knowing there wouldn’t be room in the new house for these. As I was gathering up the “trash,” I realized something. All those things we think we have to have, those things we think are essential to our happiness and well-being – after it’s all said and done, and we gather what we absolutely have to have to survive, what’s left is about 50 garbage bags of stuff. Stuff someone else could probably use, but since there wasn’t time to clean it up, it couldn’t be donated or sold. Stuff someone once cared a lot about, but had to leave behind.
All I could think of was, “Is this what my life will be reduced to when I’m gone? 50 bags of junk I’ve accumulated that no one wants?” That thought led to, “What am I leaving here that’s of worth?” My boys, of course. And hopefully fond memories. But have I done anything else that will last – people I’ve helped, lives I’ve touched in some way? It’s a sobering thought, and makes me want to be extra careful about how I treat people. The lady whose screaming child drives me nuts in the grocery store. The older couple strolling in front of me that I can’t pass so I can move faster to get my shopping done and check one more thing off my to do list. The little girl who interrupts a conversation I’m having so she can ask me to get her hula hoop that flew over the fence into my backyard. Have I been rude and unkind, or was I compassionate, or, at least, friendly?
Although there’s nothing funny about this story, there is a (kind of) happy ending. The couple ended up at a friend’s farm, and they’re raising horses, which has always been their dream. So it ended well, and even though it’s been very painful, there’s at least something they can be grateful for. Hopefully, this Thanksgiving, they’ll be able to look back and see some good that came out of the situation. Because there’s always something we can learn from our experiences – good or bad.
In the meantime, I will try to remember to be grateful for all I have – my home, my health, my family and extended family and friends – instead of moaning about what I don’t have. Because those things that I don’t have would probably be part of the 50 bags of trash one day – not necessary and easily discarded.
Stamp set: Always Thankful*; Ink: Jet Black StazOn; Basic Gray, Early Espresso, Garden Green, Rich Razzleberry, Pumpkin Pie, Cajun Craze, More Mustard, Tangerine Tango, Island Indigo stampin’ write markers; Paper: Naturals ivory, More Mustard, Chocolate Chip card stock; Spice Cake designer series paper; Other: Big Shot, Lots of Tags sizzlets, decorative label punch, metallic brads, aqua painter, blender pen, Chocolate Chip dotted scallop ribbon, Moonlight smooch paint, stampin’ dimensionals (*Holiday Mini Catalog)