I am not a collector of stuff. Though I do have a few special trinkets, paraphernalia from our years in Central America and some special possessions given as gifts over the years, we don't have a lot of non-necessities in our home. As much as I hate to move, and I've done it enough, I've seen each major change as an opportunity to simplify my life. I've always been this way. My mom loved clean but didn't mind a few extra things lying around, her dining room table was ample proof of that. Even as a kid I took it upon myself to keep that table cleared as much as possible, a never-ending task with four younger brothers and sisters who couldn't have cared less at that time.
Larry has worked well with me on my need for tidiness over the years. Well, that is except for his tendency to leave a paper trail wherever he goes. He'll write phone numbers and bits of information on tiny scraps of paper and leave them all around the house. When I find them, often days or weeks later, he doesn't usually have a clue as to what they are. Every once in awhile I'll commit the unpardonable sin, going into his office and peeking into or under his desk. There is always paper, piles of it. He seems to love the stuff: sermon notes, minutes from board meetings, personal reminders, emails, letters. You name it, it's there.
Then there are the boxes stowed away in our attic full of old bank statements, utility bills and the like. The thought of all that paper makes me shudder. I have mentioned more than once that I'd love to take a week off, get a high-powered shredder and start eliminating it all. But this is one of those subjects that has created some tension in our marriage, and I have learned to tread a bit more carefully when broaching the subject. So I figured that if he goes to his reward first, one of the first things I'd do is turn my music up full blast and start shredding away. But if I were to precede him, I fear they would remain where they are. I can just see my poor children opening those boxes and throwing their arms up in the air, wondering why their father hung onto all that stuff for all those years, leaving them to do all the work of sorting through.
That brings me to today, our anniversary. Thirty-six years ago I married a tall, skinny seminary student who is ridiculously romantic and terribly sentimental. I'm neither. So for example, if he's going to get me flowers, he's learned that I'd prefer a single rose over a dozen. I reason that since they're going to eventually die anyways, why spend all that money? This is what he's had to contend with all these years, an overly practical wife.
I had already had my coffee and watched almost an hour of news when he came shuffling down the steps this morning. "I know what I'm giving you for an anniversary gift this year," he said. "I'm going to start shredding those boxes of papers for you." An hour or so later I heard the scraping of heavy objects being dragged across the attic floor and then the plod of heavy feet coming down two flights of stairs and then out the door to the office next door to begin that monumental task. Except for a few hour's break in the afternoon to take in a meal and do a little shopping, Larry has spent almost the entire day on my anniversary gift.
Lots of couples say they have a special song that they've chosen for their own, music that expresses how they feel about each other. We've never had that, one song that connects the two of us. But today I heard music, and though there were no words, the humming of the melody from behind the office door was all I needed to know that he loves me.