Sunday, January 5, 2014

Still Learning To Let Go

Those who’ve followed my blog for a while know how good I am at throwing myself pity parties. Like most folks, my hopes and dreams didn’t fair too well against the realities of life. Plus, being part of a small dying branch on the family tree, I don’t have much in the way of family to relate to, anymore. I felt cheated when I had to give up my self-employment, nearly 20 years ago. I felt like a failure selling the family farm to escape my debts when it became apparent that the factory where I worked then was going to close ten years ago. And, it’s been with a mixture of thankfulness and regret that I’ve parted with many old heirlooms over the years to help with expenses. Many items, while poor in value, were rich in memories, but I was the only one left who knew their stories.

Still, there’s a certain feeling of freedom in sorting out and getting rid of excess “stuff.” We are, too often, limited and constrained by our possessions. I’ve heard of people passing up once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because there would be no-one to keep an eye on their stuff while they were gone. You have to wonder about the actual value of material goods when they limit you, rather than give you more opportunities. Of course, most of us have known folks who have so much unneeded trumpery that their garage and multiple storage rentals are filled to over-flowing. I try to keep in mind Billy Graham’s quip that he has yet to see a U-Haul following a hearse to the cemetery.

And so, yesterday, I parted with three neat little wooden boxes from the 20’s or 30’s, perhaps, that once held Famo Chocolate Covered Nuts. I knew that because of the embossing on the box lids, inside and out. They later held family photos and papers and had come from the one-time store building at my grandparents, which later served as my beloved great aunt’s living quarters. I had documented and distributed all the contents, though, so regardless of how neat they were, I really had no use for them. So, I advertised them on Facebook and sold them for $20 for the three, which put some gas in my truck. Had I known that the guy was buying them only to cut them up to build musical instruments, I wouldn’t have sold them to him. I felt they deserved to be saved for their own sakes, but hey, I guess they’ll bring joy to somebody.

I sold my tractor yesterday, also. I hated to part with it for different reasons. For one thing, I’ll never again get that good of a tractor for that good of a price. Also, it may mark the end of another little dream that I had. Perhaps most of all, it’s the first time that I’ve ever been “tractorless.” My granddad got the first tractor for the farm in ‘33 or ’35, a Fordson, from what I can see in an old photo. Then came a ’53 Ford Golden Jubilee, followed by a ’57 Ferguson 40. Last, I did some trading and let the 40 go to a neighbor who could take better care of it than I, while I ended up with an excellent used Massey Ferguson 240.

Had I gotten my act together sooner and signed up for CDL training when I first lost my job 11 months ago, I could have held onto the tractor, but I was sure I’d have a job by this time, so I didn’t sign up. You might guess that when I finally decided to take that training that congress would decide not to extend my unemployment benefits. So, I sold the tractor. Now I’ll have the money to live on while I take the training and, maybe, for two or three months afterwards. It remains to be seen whether congress will revisit the extended benefits issue.

The guy who originally got the tractor for me, was also kind enough to take it to his place and check it over and try to find a buyer. It was there that I met the guy who would buy it. He seemed like a nice young man. I knew the neighbor when he was just a kid, and his help has been a real blessing for me. I’m glad that I’ve made his reacquaintance in my later years. He wouldn’t accept anything for his help and is even going to deliver it for the new owner. They don’t come much nicer than that.

As I came home from making the deal, the sun was setting toward the town end of the ridge and the sky was ablaze with all the colors of the rainbow. With reds, yellows and oranges predominating, the western horizon cast a fiery glow on the recent snow. It reminded me of all the beautiful sunsets that I’ve been blessed to witness during the many years that I worked outdoors for my living. It felt like a gift from the Lord. Not everything of value can be kept in a wooden box…….or a U-Haul. © 2014


Sunnybrook Farm said...

I seldom use my tractor but I really like looking at it and when I need it, I really need it so I'm real sorry that you had to sell it. It was a good clean tractor, I sure would have bought it if I had any money and lived near enough.
Don't blame yourself too much, who would have ever guessed that our own leaders(and their voters) would have done more damage to our country than any terrorist could have dreamed of. I am afraid that we haven't seen anything yet, you are moving in the right direction with your damage control. I know how you feel.

Mamahen said...

:'( Letting go is not easy for me....i'm sorry for the loss of dreams as much as for any "things" !

Humble wife said...

Of course one can't take it with them, but, we do have sentimental value that is understandable. Why not take some photos and put them up here and elsewhere so we can share your memories and if/or when you have to part with them, the story continues on.

I moved across the country from the family homestead and have my rock collection as my memory. Photos would go a long way, and tell a story to others as to why something resonates so much with our soul.

I am saddened for you none the less, as my husband and I began our own legacy that we are putting love/sweat/and tears into to make something for our children and beyond.


Gorges Smythe said...

SF, the kid who's getting the tractor seems like a really nice fellow, that makes me feel good about it. As for the other, I've learned to never go indebt to please somebody else, because they won't be helping you make the payments.

Mh, I tend to dream less these days and just enjoy the moment. I recall that verse in Ecclesiates where we're told to eat, drink and enjoy the fruits of our labor, because it's a gift from God.

Actually, Hw, I AM getting pictures of things as I sell them and putting them in a file. I'm doing the same with old pictures and then passing them on to the closest relative. A few items, I pass along to people who would appreciate them.

Tewshooz said...

I remember when unemployment benefits were 16 weeks or less. We are prisoners of our 'things' and are in the process of down sizing. Too much stuff and the kids don't want it, either. Hang in there,

Scooney Adrift said...

I'm sorry you had to sell your tractor, that must have hurt.
I hope better times are just around the corner for you.

Penny said...

Beautiful, Gorges! What I take away most from this is that you are able to mark the sadness without succumbing to bitterness and you are able to transcend into recognizing the hand of God in your life. Life circumstances have required me to move a lot at what I considered very "inopportune" times, with not a lot of resources with which to move a lot of stuff with me. By now, if I don't get it that God is controlling the wind at my sails, I am a hard case, indeed! This has made me reflect and I hope you'll forgive me if my next blog post seems to be too similar to yours to be a coincidence! Keep on keepin' on!

Chickenmom said...

After my Father died, it was so hard to go through his things. He had many, many treasures from when he was a young, adventurous man. I had no idea what his connection to them was. They were easy to let go of. However, the things we shared I kept. After I'm gone, my kids will have no idea why I did keep them. They will keep the things they shared with him and will probably toss the ones I kept. I guess that's the way it been forever, Gorges. We cherish what we have while still alive.

Gorges Smythe said...

Scooney, I felt that getting my CDL was more important in the long run than keeping the tractor. Sometimes, you just have to go with priorities.

Well, Penney, I always try to not let my depression depress me! I've notiuced that you do pick up stakes fairly often; I'm looking forward to that next post.

I know what you mean, Cm. I've come across things in the past that I wish I knew their story, but whoever knew was long gone.

Mamma Bear said...

GS..I see so many people having to let go of things that mean a lot to them. I am especially saddened when I know the person even if it is via a blog. I know by reading your blog you are a Godly man and the Lord will look after you. When things are at their worse....remember Job.

I am glad you found a home for your tractor and it will be enough to see you through for awhile.

Sixbears said...

Good luck Gorges. Stuff is just stuff, but memories are something else entirely.

My lovely wife and I have given most of the old collectable things to the kids. By the time we past there will be nothing left to fight over.

I used to have a CDL, but had to give that up. Strange world. Hope it works out for you.

I've got friends with tractors, and that will have to do.

Gorges Smythe said...

Yeah, I've whined, therfore I am, MB; now it's time to move on.

The aggravating thing is that I have to learn how to drive a semi, when all I really want is to go back to driving a straight-frame like I used to, Sixbears. As for tractors, I have three neighbors, each of whom would do any tractor work I need; I just hate to ask them.

Michael Silvius said...

It is sad you had to let that beautiful tractor go. But it would be sadder if you did not have it to let go and turn it in to something to sustain yo and carry your forwards through the tough times. Hang in there we are all bucking for you.

Gorges Smythe said...

Thanks, Michael, I appreciate it!