My husband Roger had plenty of warning. He saw how much stuff I brought home from my college dorm, as pictured. He saw it on weekends when he’d drive to my tight but semi-orderly University of Evansville campus dorm from his noisy, stinky all-male domain at Rose Hulman in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Testing my use of adjectives today … as I continue to overcome a lifelong battle with objects and objections … and better understand how my sentimentality both helps and hurts me. It’s my sword and my scar.

Roger asked a month ago what I wanted for Christmas. Nothing you can buy, I said. Only your time to help me keep organizing. Sounds cheap, easy and loving … but it’s hard when he would rather pitch than peer inside. And I understand completely.

He learned that the hard way years ago when he tossed a box of my stuff without looking inside. It was items from my car, and to my horror the day after trash pickup, I discovered that it included my mileage book for my business and other important items. He apologized for a long time after that. 

But I’m at a different point in life today than I was a dozen years ago when that box went bye-bye. Since then I lost Dad and I have his two favorite rocker-recliners, including the one in which he had his massive stroke. No, it’s not creepy curling up in a blanket in that blue chair … it’s comforting and my cat Bling’s favorite perch on top. She knows it means a lot to me.

And then I lost Mom and had to sort all of her earthly possessions, decide what was donated where she had lived and what came home with me to face later. I faced one of those yesterday, an old pair of tennis shoes that she had worn to death. And I thought, “Mom, you would’ve been more comfortable with a new pair of shoes at least every 10 years. I would’ve bought them for you.”

I laughed at the silliness of it all and announced to Roger, “If you open the trash can and see these shoes, I’m finally throwing them away.” He smiled at the small victory.

I told him I understand his frustration but please don’t call my stuff crap or shit. I don’t say that about all the model airplanes and other geeky stuff that’s important to him.

Just work beside me for a little while every day, and we’ll clear a better path for both of us. After five years of dating and 42 years of marriage, it’s good to know we can still teach a little and learn a little … that we can still open our minds and imaginations to all the living we still want to cram into our lives …

Hey, drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a comment below. I’d love to speak to your group, organization or company about working our way through the pain and challenges of everyday life. You want straight talk? You got me!