Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: REDUCE (11/05/15)
TITLE: One Man's Treasure
By Cindy White
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Barney's daughter, Maureen, stood with him in the crowded living room and pestered him to sell or donate her mother's treasures. She'd selected a few pieces meaningful to her, but had no room in her home or her life for clutter.
“Daddy, please think about selling the house now,” Maureen pleaded. “I hate you being here alone. We can make room for you, or there's a couple of really nice retirement places close by. Just think about it.”
Barney shoved his hands in his pockets and surveyed the living space. “You know how much mom loved this house. I'm fine here, lass. You worry too much.” He wouldn't admit it, but caring for this place was getting to be a bit much. His joints ached and his legs grew weaker with age.
“Promise me you'll consider it,” Maureen said. She kissed his cheek and let herself out the front door.
Barney and Mary had bought the house just weeks after Maureen was born. Through the years they'd made many improvements, including custom shelves for the collections. They'd built their life and nurtured their family here. What would she think of him selling their history to strangers?
It was though he'd be forsaking his beloved. He couldn't do it.
Barney shuffled to the table and enjoyed his usual morning bagel. A ray of sunlight splashed across the kitchen, danced up the cupboard, and lit up an intricate network of cobwebs on the upper shelf. He hadn't noticed that before. “Don't worry, Mary, I'll take care of that for ya, darlin'.” He placed the step ladder and ascended with his dust rag.
With a dirty vase in hand, Barney tuned toward the sink and eased down the ladder. As his right foot planted on the second step, his left caught the edge. The floor approached quickly. Dread surged through Barney's mind as he clung tight to the vase. The sound of shattering glass overpowered the sound of his grunt. Barney landed in a heap on the kitchen floor, surrounded by shards.
What would Mary say about the broken vase? “Good heavens, Barney! Are you alright, sweetheart? Let me sweep away this rubbish before you cut yourself.”
Rubbish. Once broken, that's all it was.
Barney struggled to his feet and took inventory. Everything felt a little numb, but he'd live. He was sure to have some bruising and pain for a few days. After cleaning up the debris and a small amount of blood, he retreated to the sofa to recuperate. He considered how serious that fall could have been and shuddered.
Mary had treasured her things and enjoyed them. Still, he was her greatest treasure, as she'd been his. His well being would have been, and always was, her first priority.
Barney knew what he needed to do. He phoned Maureen.
Several months later, with Maureen's help, Mary's collectibles had found good homes and the house was cleared. A “For Sale” sign stood on the front lawn. The changes were bittersweet. He would miss the comfort of what he had known, yet his heart was light and he found relief in the clear spaces and new found free time.
Barney moved into an upscale retirement villa a few blocks from Maureen's home. His small apartment was a perfect fit, with no yard to keep up. In no time his schedule was filled with church activities, friendships, and a renewed interest in his hobbies. Getting outside with his camera made him come alive again.
Barney decorated his new home sparsely, keeping only his favorite pieces. Among those were a Hummel figurine that he'd always thought resembled him and Mary on their first date, a tea set from their trip to Ireland, and the gilded butterfly vase he'd given her on their 50th wedding anniversary.
What's a little dusting for the sake of treasured memories?
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