Sentimental Pack Rat

My parents and their siblings lived through the great depression. Those were rough times. Thankfully, they survived.

I think those challenging moments left a mark— don’t be wasteful. They held on to things, thinking at some point a use would be found for an item.

Maybe because of my parents or the fact that I worked in schools for 31 years, I tend to hang on to things too. I think I could be labeled a sentimental pack rat.

This past summer, we had significant work done to our basement. My wife, the Commander Supreme, gave me some stringent orders about my so called junk—get rid of it.

So, I have been chipping away at my accumulations. I have made progress, but I know I have room for improvement.

Some items, the decision to toss is easy. Others, I’m 50/50, but I usually end up tossing.

The toughest to toss or not to toss decisions are the personal notes I have received. When life is going wrong, revisiting a heartfelt note from the past can be a reminder that at one time I had some good in this old sack of bones.

Back in October 2019, I noted the name of a person in the obituary section of the Richmond-Times Dispatch. That name sounded familiar. There was also a photograph.

My brain is slowing down, but gradually I recognized his face and  his name meant something to me. I remembered this young man as being a student at Lakeside Elementary School where I served as principal for nine years.

His name was Terrence, and he was a very nice young man, a joy to be around.

The obituary gave no details about his passing. I did a search and found the dismal news account. 

Terrence, then 21, ran off a road, hit a ditch, overturned the car, and was ejected. He was not wearing his seat belt. The state trooper doing the investigation found no evidence of alcohol or drugs contributing to the accident. 

Sad, sad story with the misery of the what if question hanging around—what if Terrence had been wearing his seat belt?

As I have continued my basement clean out, the other day I came across a small framed photograph of Terrence. 

In the photo, he has a wonderful full smile on his face. It was a sincere smile— full of life and happiness. A smile that showed he was loved by his parents, family, and friends.

There was also a pale yellow rectangular shaped sticky note attached. 

In pencil, Terrence had written:

Dear Mr. Pike thank you for beliveing in me. Love Terrence (no spell check here)

I have no recollection of anything I did to deserve this sweet note.

But, I’ll tell you—it is ok to be a sentimental pack rat in moments like this.  That note and photograph will never be tossed.

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