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TeensWith a Thankful Heart
By Joanne Malley

"Watch out!" I yelled.

"Whoa…Mom – that rake just missed my head!" screamed my daughter.

"You ok, honey?" I asked with concern.

"Yeah, but I’m outta here. I’m too spooked to help anymore," she said.

"Sorry, honey – your dad is disorganized in the garage. He needs to tighten that overhead tool hook and clean up."

On her way into the house, she tripped over a broom.

"Sheesh, Mom! Doesn’t Dad ever put anything away?"

"Afraid not," I replied with frustration. "You know he lacks organization."

I continued to scour the garage for my husband’s small, weathered, trunk; however, I knew my search would be a long, dirty hunt.

I was rewarded after another ten-minute search. It hid beneath a tarp and a large box of used motor oil containers. Why did that not surprise me? The condition of our garage always provides an expedition with a challenge I detest.

I sat on the grungy floor and opened the trunk. My husband’s memories invited me in for a visit and I was reacquainted with his experiences of twenty-five years ago.

The contents sparked the excitement of new love – a time when our feelings ignited. The trunk held inklings of who he was, but it would soon hold a collection of precious things that speak of who we both are because of Him.

Marine Corps Dress Blues, a wool blanket, canned rations, a camouflage hat, old letters from me and many keepsakes belonging to him lay inside. I miss that man of long ago, but I love the one God crafted him to be more than he’ll ever know. The exact amount is stored up in my soul.

With loving care, I folded his Dress Blues. I placed his camouflage hat and remaining keepsakes on the left side of the trunk next to his uniform. On the right, I situated things that held special meaning to me. Many items came from my husband years ago; before we married. They all lifted my spirit and made it soar.

Opening a bag nearby, I retrieved my twirling outfit from high school and reminisced of being sixteen. Crinkled, dried-out tissue paper once protected it. My outfit was not as impressive as his uniform, but it played a sweet role in our relationship. I wore it the first time his warm, brown eyes searched mine. I nestled it close to his uniform.

A collection of old letters from him, that had traveled across the world, spoke of his feelings and our future plans. I placed them in the trunk, with precious, teary-eyed memories.

I placed a folded pack of tissues, once soaked with remnants of happy tears, in the trunk too. I used them long ago upon his return to U.S. soil from foreign land. I’ve kept them as a reminder of our love’s endurance while we were apart.

I also included an old record – its cover tattered. One of its songs played on an old family victrola, through his phone line to mine, while his voice reached out in love and support to a girl clouded by many darkened days.

With memories of romance, I carefully lifted the crystal keepsake box of dried roses – mostly red, with an occasional pink or yellow – each one once a long-stemmed beauty that spoke directly from his heart. I placed the first one inside the box nearly twenty-five years ago. Fragrant aromas still escape each time I remove the lid, and the scent stirs old innocent feelings of love in bloom.

The last item I put in the trunk was The Holy Bible. It has been the glue that kept us together while our eyes remained fixed above. I thank my husband for showing and teaching me the importance of God’s word. I thank God for walking with us as we all bonded together.

Heaps of junk fills our disorganized garage, but the special traits that fill my husband’s Godly soul rise high above the mess. Although his lack of attention to our garage frustrates me, I’m learning to look past the junk and see only his treasures.

With our now joined collection of keepsakes in my husband’s trunk, I was ready to share it with him. Although it was June, the card I placed inside read "Happy Thanksgiving." My handwritten message inside proclaimed my love for two special beings; one earthly and one heavenly, and the many blessings they’ve both added to my life.

With a thankful, reminiscent heart, I closed the lid.

With an open, willing heart, I will reap His blessings forevermore.
Joanne Malley writes from her antique desk in New Jersey where she creates articles for her own column for Cross Times Magazine. She and her husband of sixteen years, Steve, have two school-age children. Though her husband has helped her find the humor in her perfectionism and obsessive traits, she’ll never think the condition of their garage is a laughing matter! You can write to Joanne through the Letters page of this Magazine.
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