I surrendered grudgingly to my wife’s pleading that the time-worn carpet in my home office needed replacement. It served me valiantly for 20-plus years. This rug comforted me faithfully through seasons of centrally provided winter warmth and summer cooling, enduring tortured trampling together with infrequent minor, to me inconsequential and invisible, spills of coffee to which I admit an addiction.
As a husband, and father of four daughters, any query of me as to shade or color was offered merely, I believe, as an irrelevant and much-appreciated courtesy.
Thereafter followed intense family reviews of advertisements, store visits and sample collections. Finally, opinions were in alignment, agreement reached; harmony prevailed on pattern, color, undermatting, quality and price. A store associate informed us that prior to installation we were required to remove the furniture, in particular my desk.
My desk! I, a wordsmith who delights in conjuring up imagery, stitching words together, was aghast at the idea of uprooting my desk, disrupting my private scriptural sanctuary. I voiced passionate displeasure. Following intense negotiation, reason prevailed; it sufficed for me to remove only my desk’s drawers and their contents, making it easier to move it to and fro during the installation process. I consented – conditional capitulation on my part.
Then my work began. I opened the middle drawer, the easiest to access. Befuddlement befell me. Its bulging disorganized contents defined my methodology over the years: when published articles or clippings cluttered my desk I had an easy solution – stuff them in this drawer in case I needed to refer to them at some future time.
The future had now arrived. I commenced, one circular disposal basket on the floor, another wire “in basket,” for those items that I absolutely required, on top of my move-threatened desk. Digging further, discoveries followed. First some money: I uncovered a crisp $2 bill … nice to have but what will I do with it? Nevertheless, it goes to the in basket. Some Canadian dollar bills kept for some foray over the Rainbow Bridge. Euro notes and coins appeared, must-keep items for a future trip to my homeland, Ireland.
Further excavation revealed beautiful family photos. I glanced at one taken of my wife some 10 years ago. Age-defying! It seemed to my eyes that while I show obvious signs of wear and tear she has not changed, still displaying her great humor and charm. Other keepsakes: a clipping from an Irish newspaper praised my deceased father’s inspiring influence on generations of pupils under his tutoring as principal of his local school. That, together with a UB Newman Center church bulletin, revived memories of my dad convening the family on many an evening to say the family rosary – in our native Gaelic language – knees on hard wooden chairs, elbows upon the traditional kitchen table. A bygone era, a long-gone culture.
Today the home office project is complete, new carpet in place. A broad-leafed plant coexists with me in my oasis. Now retired, a forlorn collection of business cards relating to my previous appointments rests at desk edge. One precious card is always within sight: that of Tara, my dearly beloved daughter who departed this life too soon, a cancer victim, leaving behind two adorable preschool daughters and a melody of pleasant memories.