Material things are supposed to mean nothing.  But things represent people to me.  My mom’s Smith & Wesson 12" sewing scissors cut patterns and fabrics for all my childhood clothes.  My dad’s binoculars that provided me hours of invading the privacy of the valley below us, the hills across it.  Betty’s wooden strawberry picking baskets.  Chris’ "Friends Forever" bracelet that now touches mine on my arm.  And Andy’s old yellow mower.

This weekend the neighbor’s kids and their families came to clean out his barn, garage and shop.  I had borrowed the mower for my dad to use; the old mower easily navigated through the rougher spots on the property.  I took it back when he died, saved for Andy’s daughter, and offered it back to her today.  The story repeated again, how at sixteen she had backed over it with the truck and how mad Andy was.  The kids still find it hard, going through his things, these six years later.  Their mother, my neighbor, wanting only to know when my classes are done, anxious to get back to weekly lunches I’ve managed to avoid for four years now.  With a degree in hand, and my father gone from my Mondays, I have no excuses left.  I gloss over the question, reminisce with the kids, the ones with the tears in their eyes that match mine, held back only by practice and time.

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