A time to throw away, and a time to keep
to depart with dignity.
The words from Ecclesiastes came to mind: everything in its season, a time to keep and a time to throw away.
They say one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. As the surgery began and bit by bit the layers of wood were being peeled off her, I crawled underneath her to get the site clean for her feet and knees. Beneath the plate of Virginia creeper spaghetti, laid remains of her own personal treasures rising up from the dirt.
She had kept these cleverly hidden for herself. The bits and pieces of her memoires told a wonderful tale of time and change, decay and rot, old and new and history in memoriam. An intact stubby beer bottle from the 70s, an old plastic bleach jug which disintegrated in a hundred pieces as I tried to retrieve it, a Woolco flyer, a styrofoam Big Mac container, the top half of a decaying cat corpse, rusty hand forged nails, and numerous old bits of old wood likely remnants of her umbilical cord from when she was first born.
The most valued treasures however were two bits of newspapers: a relatively intact section of a Moose Jaw Times Herald from November 3, 1975 which contained an ad for the local Remembrance Day service and a section from the Daily News from April 12, 1915 which had articles about the First World War.
As I pondered these treasures in my heart I thought of how well she had stood up over time. I thought of the wood alone and the value of these old, strong, intact pieces of timber that were never wasted or thrown away but cared for, maintained, and loved. I thought of the dirge of picking through piles of new wood, at two different local lumber yards, none of it straight, most of it cracked or split.
After hours of searching for needles in haystacks, I found the few inferior pieces of lumber that would replace her pillars. But, her hip replacement will never replace the thickness or the quality of her original hip.
It will always be inferior who and what she was.
No, it will never be what she was made of. Today, everyone is just too busy, and far less inclined to care. The human desire for a job today rather than a future for tomorrow feed this gluttonous greedy beast that consumes rather than cares. The forest fires are so devastating.
Renovating projects such as this necessarily involve a to trip to the local dump. And, it was there, while disposing of her bottom half, I was once again reminded of the smell of human waste, haste, greed, pride, gluttony and arrogance.
It seemed so unfitting that she would land up in the landfill after serving five or six generations of families, this street, and this community. But what to do with her remains? She couldn’t be cremated. Our only option was to bury her.
Buried with her though are the values of her generation. Words that now have less meaning.
Words like quality, craftsmanship, commitment, accountability, trust, truth, ethics, courage, diligence, order, and value.
May she rest in peace. We still have her top half. I pray our children ahead of us will relearn what many are forgetting from the past.