Sunday, July 4, 2010

Uncle Sam

On this Fourth of July morning, I am surrounded by an assortment of hand-carved, wooden Uncle Sams. Each is different and special to me; all remind me of my love of this country and the depth of my patriotism.

Every one of them (the smiling ones and the serious ones) also reminds me of Tom.

He was a tall and lanky guy, known for the broad smile he showed off often and with ease. He was friendly and fun. For me, he was always “the life of the party.”

Because of his natural likeness to the American icon, Tom enjoyed nothing more than taking on the persona of Uncle Sam on the Fourth of July. Seeing him ride on a float in the neighborhood parade or passing out small American flags to children were delightful sights.

I purchased my first Uncle Sam statue in 1995, shortly after Tom died.

I spotted it at a high-end gift shop. It was of fine quality and expensive. Even so, it looked so much like Tom that I just had to bring it home. Ever since, that particular Uncle Sam has been close by, sitting on a shelf in my home office.

The other Uncle Sams in my collection were acquired over the years — most often without intention. I’d walk into an antique shop, discovered on one of my travels, and there, amidst dust and clutter, would sit another irresistible likeness of Tom.

On the Fourth of July, I unpack all of my treasured collectibles and bring them out for all to see. I scatter them around — on hedges and tabletops! I smile when I look at them and sometimes I cry.

But always, I remember a man I loved and the birth of a country we loved to celebrate together!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Today is the first of a much-anticipated, three-day weekend, and I’m up early. Without alarm or special need, my body clock set me in motion before the crack of dawn.

By 6 a.m. I had put on a pot of coffee, gathered up a load of dark-colored laundry, jumped on the scale for a reality check, done some yoga-style stretches and placed an age-defying masque on my face.

I sit here now pleased with myself and pondering the possibilities of the hours ahead.

Scattered thunderstorms threaten to put a damper on things for many here in Houston, but not me. I had planned, all along, to make this particular weekend a mental health one, focusing on my home and a long list of things I need to do around here. Most are small things, of little importance. But, together, they add significantly to my levels of stress and states of unease.

There is a large, empty pot on my front porch. Every time I walk by it, I think, “Go buy a plant and stick it in there.” But, for some reason, I never get around to it. Today, I will, and doing so will bring more beauty into my world and make me smile.

There is a stack of unsolicited mail sitting on top of a small chest in the hall. Often, the stack gets too high, and flyers and envelopes fall to the floor. Each time it does, I think, “Just go through all this paper, and do what must be done.” Instead of addressing the problem, I postpone it. (Bending over frequently is good exercise, after all.) Well, that stack has tipped over for the very last time. Today, I will toss paper to my heart’s content.

There is a small closet in my home office. For a while, it contained only extra office supplies. Currently, it is the depository of things I have been too lazy to deal with or carry upstairs and put in their proper places — two winter purses, a pair of heels, holiday wrapping paper. It’s also holding two bags of donations I intend to drop off at Goodwill Industries. Cleaning out this closet will take less than 15 minutes and contribute mightily to the Zen-like organization I strive for and thrive on.

There is a drawer in my kitchen that never gets opened — because it is full of gadgets I never use. Today, I am going to gather them all up and give them to a young friend who is a new bride and avid cook. She will give my neglected gadgets the love and attention they deserve.

And, for the first time in my life, I will have an empty kitchen drawer — one that will hold nothing more than all my special hopes and dreams for the future. One that will forever remind me that less is truly more.