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A Wagon Filled with Memories


A Wagon Filled with Memories

By Patrick L. Hempling

Featured in Baton Rouge Parents Magazine, August 2011



“Let’s clean out the garage today.” How did this statement come from my mouth?  If I had typed these words, I could have highlighted the sentence and pressed the delete key before anyone saw it.  However, like all words, once they’re spoken in front of witnesses, you can’t take them back.  Mattie, my wife, quickly seconded the idea as this project had been on my Honey-Do list for quite some time. Jessie, my nine-year-old daughter, made it unanimous.

Okay, besides attempting to tackle this project with two other supervisors, which is two too many, I knew our different personalities would enter into play. There’s Mr. Sentimental (me).  I know Jessie can’t use her pink ball glove anymore, but we have to keep it forever.  Then there’s Mrs. Clutterfree (Mattie).  “We haven’t used it in the last five years.  Take it to Goodwill.”  Finally, there’s Miss Open Every Box.  “What’s in that box?  Let’s pull that box down.”  We weren’t into the cleaning project very long before I concluded that a trip to the dentist for a root canal would have been more fun.

At day’s end, I was pleased with the progress my two supervisors and I had made.  The car would have to stay parked in the driveway for the night as the garage floor was covered with everything, but family harmony is more important. Did we have differences of opinion? Yes. Did I go to bed exhausted? You bet.  Will I get to be the only supervisor for day two? Not a chance.

We did, however, share some special times. Mattie and I pulled out possessions we hadn’t seen in years and Jessie had never seen. One box contained love letters and poems I wrote to Mattie before we were married. Jessie and Mattie laughed at them, and  I can’t believe I wrote such mushy stuff. I also have no recollection of writing them.

Jessie announced she could part with her tiny red wagon. Mattie, Mrs. Clutterfree, said, “We can’t give that away. That’s where Jessie had her apple sales.”  I had gone with Jessie’s preschool class to an apple orchard and brought home the ones we picked. We decided to have an apple sale and made a sign; “Apples For Sale – Only 25 cents,” with Jesse setting up shop into her little red wagon. We had so much fun selling apples, learning about money, giving change, and talking about how to run a successful business that we repeated the process after Halloween with Jessie’s trick-or-treat candy.

My most sentimental moment came when I pulled a sign away from the wall and found half of a pink, plastic Easter egg.  Jessie used to hide plastic eggs long after Easter had ended, and would split them in half to make hide and seek last longer.  I, Mr. Sentimental, said, “Oh, I’m keeping this.”  Of course, Mrs. Clutterfree’s immediate response was, “Trash!”  Now, I admit, a half of a plastic egg covered with dust and spider webs doesn’t make the best keepsake, but I’m not a hoarder. Okay, maybe I’m a hoarder of memories.

The garage clean-up will probably take several more days.  Will I find the other half of the pink egg?  If I do, I’m saving it.  I’ll store it in Jessie’s tiny red wagon.

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03 Jun 2016


By By Patrick L. Hempling

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