Simple Needs, Simple Gifts

While grabbing the mail a few weeks back, I noticed one oversized envelope with a stamped New York return address.

“5th Avenue” it read. It was sent from a suite in in the Empire State Building.

Yet my Minnesota address was handwritten.

I smiled for a minute, thinking of the many trips I made to the city when I was young.

I thought fondly of one employer who’d put me up in a particularly posh room at the UN Plaza, overlooking the Chrysler Building.

I remember sitting cross legged on my oversized bed at 3:00 a.m. gazing up at that skyscraper shining brighter than the stars overhead.

I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of it all.

But I never quite made it to the Empire State Building.

Was this some kind of a fancy invitation now, I wondered?

Well, sort of.

Inside the envelope was an offer to select a gift to thank me for my many years of service from a more recent employer. They provided me a with a password to use on an internet site.

I retired back in the fall.

The selections they presented me with were dazzling though I couldn’t find any new car batteries or gift cards for dog food included.

Instead I saw regal looking clocks with chimes, delicate diamond bracelets, circular saws, and 24 piece flatware sets.

Nice merchandise indeed, but I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that more than 90 percent of possessions I owned when I retired are no longer around.

In order to downsize to an 800 square foot cottage that same month, I needed to pare down quickly. And I was also in the process of paring down to a 30 hour work week with a non-profit.

It’s pretty clear my lifestyle’s changed.

And I have as well, I was thinking as I took a second look at each of the possibilities before me.

I quickly rejected the handsome clocks. My time on earth is too short to sit and watch each minute tick by.

And diamond bracelets aren’t a must for my current wardrobe of three pairs of faded jeans, two sweatshirts, and a salt stained winter parka.

I then consulted my neighbor who advised me that deciphering the detailed instructions for a circular saw would clearly have me running in circles.

And once my late husband was diagnosed with dementia, I threw all formal dining out the window and became a permanent fan of plastic knives and forks.

I finally decided to set the big envelope aside for a while.

Instead, I stopped over at the local thrift store to take a look at a small rocking chair for $4.00.

I’ve downsized so much I don’t have chairs anymore for my grandkids to sit in when they stop by.

I found walking through the shop was like walking through my own personal history museum, as I’d donated so many items there.

To my left I saw my husband’s colorful collection of silk ties, neatly displayed next to several of his crisp blue checked shirts.

To my right were lovingly crafted pottery pieces that used to sit on our coffee table.

And in front of me was a display of our old crystal pieces.

There stood my tall Tiffany candlesticks, our beautifully etched bowls, and all my elegant vases.

I saw my favorite vase where I once displayed the yellow roses I received each anniversary.

I became a little melancholy.

But only briefly.

I know all the goods I donated will find the homes they deserve.

And I’m helping out a worthy local charity that does a great job of helping clients find food, housing, and jobs.

Today I went back again to view the gift website of my old employer.

And this time I saw something new that had been added.

The gift was described as a ‘creative vision’.

An ‘evolution’ of sorts.

One encased with color ‘creating a dramatic presence’.

The words made me think of what I want for this late chapter of a life.

I quickly hit the ‘send’ button.

An aqua infused crystal vase will be coming my way in 10 days.

It’s a simple gift really, yet shining with light.

And it will bring back color to a landscape once cloudy as it frames the yellow roses I’ll be growing in my new little garden.

What more could I possibly want?

What more could I possibly need?

Not one single thing.

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Peace and my pal

I had no intention of ever adopting the dog I was driving to meet.

Yet I was determined to see the peaceful looking corgi in the picture.

But who was I fooling?

You don’t drive 3 hours in a freezing Minnesota rain storm for a joy ride.

However, the dog’s intentions were always clear.

After several years of service for a questionable breeder, Maddie was anxious for a home.

When we met she looked up at me with her loving brown eyes and a happy smile.

I was hooked.

And her request for a belly rub just sealed the deal.

Maddie and I have been together eight years now. And her sparkle remains in spite of losing the use of her back legs recently.

Today at the vet with the rest of the canine crew, Maddie was outdistancing the pack.

Maybe the new pink collar from a friend laced with the aroma of lavender energized her.

Using her front legs to full advantage, Maddie pushed open the heavy examining room door to go see her favorite receptionist at the front desk.

Next she tackled the vet’s personal office down the hall to see if he had any goodies hidden within.

Maddie knows he’s good for a few treats if she bats her eye lashes.

The vet and I watched in amazement and discussed how Maddie continues to live life with intention in spite of what others see as limitations.

I’m looking into a doggie wheelchair now and I’m confident Maddie will use it to full advantage for the time she has left.

On our way home, Maddie rode shotgun with me in the Subaru.

With her nose in the air, she was taking in every ounce of spring’s sweetness.

Especially as we drove down a boulevard of blooming purple lilac bushes.

Maddie kept nudging my arm to get my attention.

I sensed she wanted me to stop the car.

And I did.

I cut some of the lilac branches off and laid them on the seat beside her.

Then I’m sure I caught her smiling.

I’m happy Maddie still knows what she wants in life.

Perhaps living with intention really is the right way to go.

And that’s for man or beast.

I do know for sure it has brought Maddie peace.

And Maddie has graciously shared the same with me.