A friend, an only child, was talking about cleaning out her parents’ house after the death of her father.
“My parents,” she said, “were both children of the Depression, so they saved everything. It is a big job.” She paused. “I finally found the key to the extra room that Daddy built on to the house. I opened it, and it was filled with Mason jars.”
I laughed because I understood. I was raised by folks like that. Mama never threw out anything. When she died, we found eight broken irons in the closets. A couple of them were so heavy they could barely be lifted. Apparently, she thought that, one day, someone might fix them or, by the grace of God, they would begin working again.
Even as I hauled them off to the trash, knowing it was the prudent thing to do, it bothered me. I have enough of Mama in me to believe that, by the grace of God, an iron broken for 40 years can work again. Now, of course, it probably isn’t going to happen. But it could. Yes, it could.
As for Mason jars, I save them, too. But since I don’t put up vegetables from the garden, they just gather dust. I’ve tried to give them away but those who garden say, “Oh, no, honey. Thank you, but I have my own jars.” Finally, I tossed some away. I’ve done easier things. It pained me, so I kept some of them.
I’m the same way about food. I’ll eat leftovers from the same meal for a week. It doesn’t bother me. As long as it’s in the refrigerator, it’s fine. In fact, I love leftovers. One night, at a restaurant, I was packing up the remnants of my meal.
“I’ll have a box for his, too, please,” I motioned across the table to Tink.
He shook his head. “I don’t want it.”
“Well, I do.”
He started laughing. “Is there anything else you want?”
I cut my eyes sideward to the table next to us. “Do you think they’d let me have their leftovers if they don’t want them?”
It was good for a laugh. Problem is that it started to sound like a fine idea.
My husband, though, is more particular. He cleans out the refrigerator. I toss nothing out until it completely withers and all hope is gone.
I heard him in the kitchen one day. The fridge door stayed open for a bit. Then, I heard the cabinet door open and the garbage can being pulled out. My ears perked up. My heart thumped. It sounded like food, probably good food, was being thrown out. I restrained myself until he left the kitchen. Then, I marched in and checked the trash can.
He had thrown a perfectly good container of hummus — never opened — into the trash. I pulled it out and put it back in the fridge. Later, I was in the kitchen when he discovered the re-deposited container in the crisper drawer.
“I threw out that hummus,” he said, lifting an eyebrow. “It’s old.”
“It’s three weeks old, never opened, and it’s still good. It’s made from chick peas. It does not spoil quickly.”
“Well, I’m not eating it.”
“Good. Then, it’ll be all mine,” said with a smile
He tossed his hands in the air and exclaimed, “I give up.”
“That’s fine,” I replied. “Give up, just don’t throw out.”
Honestly, I have a problem discarding things that I might could use again. I’m not a hoarder. Until we married and Tink moved in, I had several empty drawers and a couple of near-empty closets. I’m pragmatic, but more than that, I’m cautious. See, I understand building on a room just to store empty Mason jars.
You never know when good times might turn bad and I might need to store some leftovers — just to make them last longer.
Rich is the best-selling author of “There’s A Better Day A-Comin.’” Go to www.rondarich.com to sign up for her newsletter.