The elimination of "stuff" at the Henley hacienda is ongoing, only the items being disposed of changed significantly last week. Rather than work in the cold basement throwing away things that have not been used in a decade or longer, my wife, Nancy, decided to open up the "firebox" and begin getting rid of old documents that date back to when I still had a full head of hair.
Judging from the large, white trash bag of confetti that was created during the shredding process I feel safe in saying that Nancy took on the chore with the same fervor that she had displayed when discarding items in the basement not long ago.
As it turned out, the firebox proved to be a time capsule of sorts, only without the fanfare that accompanied the unearthing of the time capsule in Central Park a couple of years ago.
As Nancy and I sat at the kitchen table, me working on a story for the Courier-Post and Nancy digging through piles of old documents, the silence was periodically broken by my bride when she would discover something of interest.
A tax return was found that dated back to my first days as a newspaperman out in Newton, Kan. While my salary of a little over $16,000 was meager, to say the least, it represented a sizable bump in pay over what I had been earning in my previous job as a radio announcer in Neosho, Mo. Despite our low salary, thanks to God's blessings and Nancy's ability to stretch a dollar, I still look back on those days fondly because we never lacked for anything.
Also taking up space in the firebox were an assortment of warranties for appliances that had long ago wore out and had been replaced.
Nancy, whose lengthy resume includes the title "family bookkeeper," patiently took the time to explain to me the significance of a pile of canceled checks that filled one envelope.
"Our bank doesn't mail back the canceled checks anymore," she said, indicating that policy change has been in place for some time.
Not everything that turned up in the firebox was a warranty or of a personal finance nature. Nancy produced a hand-written note from Amber, one of our three daughters. The note, which Nancy estimated Amber had written while in a late elementary grade at school, heralded Nancy not only for being an excellent mother, but for also being a wonderful cook, which was a point she drove home with multiple exclamation points.
"I love you mom," Amber wrote. "Do you love me?"
A short time later after reading me Amber's note Nancy was on the phone with Amber, sharing about the note she had written. At some point during their conversation Nancy assured her daughter that she does indeed love her.
One of the oldest, if not the oldest, document that was turned up was a receipt for a chiming wall clock that we had purchased on Dec. 22, 1982, at a clock shop located in a mall in Wichita, Kan. Amazingly, almost 40 years later, the clock still is as accurate as ever.
When we purchased the timepiece our oldest son, Caleb, was 7 while his younger brother, Jacob, had recently turned 3. Nancy pointed out that the purchase of the clock preceded the birth of our surprise twins, Amber and Amanda, by less than three weeks.
"If we had known we were going to have twins we might not have bought the clock," said Nancy, citing the fact that the clock, which cost over $200, qualified as a major expenditure for our family.
Today our children have grown and in most cases now have children of their own, who are intrigued by the chiming clock just as their parents were long ago. My how time flies.