I grew up in the ’50s with very practical parents. A mother, God love her,who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it.
My father was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, dishtowel in the other.
It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there’d always be more.
But then my mother died, and on that clear summer’s night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any more. Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away…never to return. So, while we have it… it’s best we love it… and care for it… and fix it when it’s broken… and heal it when it’s sick.
This is true for marriage… and old cars… and children with bad report cards… and dogs with bad hips… and aging parents… and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.