Frankensteins and furniture

We moved into our house approximately three years ago. It was our first huge purchase together, and if I say so myself, a damn good one. When we leave, its halls will resonate with good vibrations for the next family who resides there. That is not the story I wish to tell today though.

One of the benefits of owning a house is taking care of the lawn. At our home, the lawn and flower beds were two things that attracted us to it. Every spring tulips burst forth from the ground under our trees, the phlox spreads a little more, and the grass greens up after a long winter nap. As the landscape comes alive, I know that it is time to break out Frankenstein.

Frankenstein is our lawn mower, and if you ever saw it you would know why. Frank is a mess. His faded red deck is covered with grass stains and oil. The throttle no longer works, and his blade is dull and nicked. Frank’s wheels are a special mix of plastic and prayer. They have long broken away from the axel that holds them, sometimes listing at a forty-five degree angle during sharp turnarounds. Frank has a throaty 6 horsepower engine, and when it gets going it vibrates the entire mower violently. There are various bolts, mismatched and bent, hanging off of Frank, hanging on to dear life.

Like all things in our home, Frankenstein has a story…

When we moved into our home in the spring of 2002, we did so with the help of U-haul, beer, pizza and friends. The home was vacant and the grunts of sweaty men and women echoed off of the hardwood floors as furniture and clothing, knick-knacks and various other items were shuffled from room to room. The grass was an unruly mess. A piece of advice, when you buy a home make sure the seller continues to take care of cutting the grass until the closing date.

One couple, sensing our dilemma about the lawn offered to give us Frank. The husband told me that it was a good mower and that he had done just about everything he could do to kill it, but it just wouldn’t die. Besides that, he was ready for a new mower and he thought this one would give us a couple of months of work before we needed a new one. Well, Frankenstein is still living, and I am too cheap to get a new mower now. Moreover, I am attached to him; well, I am attached to the memories and the people that he reminds me of. Therefore, for all of my griping and complaining, I still smile when I open the shed and pull him out for another go around the yard.

I am the third owner of Frank, the first to probably name him. Frank has run over stumps and bushes. He has cleared out paths of knee high grass and he has not complained one bit. I am proud that he has made it this long given my incompetence with machines. Truth be told, I am quite sentimental about him, especially since I am pretty sure he won’t be making the trek across the country (sorry Chet).

There is no reason to be this attached to a mower, but I am this way with everything I own. Everything is full of stories. My wife and I laugh about the fact that all but three or four things in our home are hand-me-downs. Everything came with a history, a life of its own, and we have added to the legends that live with each piece. However, the time has come to bid farewell to some the things we have enjoyed.

The hardest part is that the physical reminders of the life and times that we shared with others will be gone. The friends who gave us the lawn mower moved to West Virginia a while ago. Yet every time I pull out Frank both of them stand before my eyes. The stories and events that we shared become real again. The smiles and laughter return as if they happened just yesterday. I guess I fear that if I let go of the objects, the stories will fade. Instead of obvious reminders all that will be left are memories, and memories always seem so distant.

It is hard to let go of the things that remind us of our place in reality; the friends and family members that prove our existence and ground our being. Sometimes I feel like I have to ask for forgiveness when we give away the items that have been under our care. I worry and pray about them finding good homes, that the memories they gave us will continue to bless those around them.

What I fear that I must begin to accept is that the people of my life are more real than the items that remind me of them. As long as I can look at a thing, I don’t have to deal with my successes and failures at dealing with the people. I lament that I don’t stay in touch as much as I could, or call as often as I should. I worry that I will wear out my welcome with the few friends I hang on to. I regret, I wail, I weep, but I also have some glimmer of hope that I will get better at this relationship thing…

That someday I will no longer need the Frankensteins and furniture to remember…

grace and peace


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