Wednesday, November 25, 2015

cashing in some memories

Memories are buried like treasures in our lives.  And, often, in the most unlikely places.

This afternoon, I was rummaging through several months of medical bills to submit to my insurer.  Due to the wide-spread use of thermal paper for receipts, two-thirds of the pharmacy bills will not be reimbursable.  Even I have no idea what I purchased.  They are lost memories. 

I need to remember to scan them when I receive them. 

But they are small potatoes.  The ones where I could still read the totals added up to $3,224 (Mx) -- or about $195 (US).  Dinner for twelve in Melaque or lunch for one in London.

While rifling through bills long paid, I ran across a type-written note.  I knew immediately what it was.  But it was an odd piece of paper to slip into my financial work.

When my brother visited in October of 2014, he told me the bathroom in his room presented a slipping hazard.  Water from the shower dampens the ceramic tile on the floor, and a fat, white boy like him could easily be injured.

The note is from my friend-sister Patti who died two months ago.  When I last saw her before I left on my trip to China, I must have mentioned the bathroom floors had safety problems -- in the eyes of some.

Several weeks later, a package arrived from Olympia.  The contents?  Four bath mats.  Two gray.  Two black.  A perfect match for the evolving look in the house with no name.

I remember chuckling when I opened the box.  The cost of shipping bath mats to Mexico was expensive -- certainly more than the cost of the mats.  But that is the type of person she was.  Her friend had a problem; she was going to help set it right.

I was going to excerpt what she wrote.  But let me give the floor to her in her own words:

Hi Steve --

Just wanted to get these off to you -- you may not get them until you return from China, but who knows?  When you were here, you mentioned an issue with the showers -- water splashes into the main part of the bath on occasion.  I think a good old-fashioned bath mat may be the solution -- you can launder it like a towel, it dries quickly (unlike a rug) and it can be hung up.  If that doesn't work for you, at least we tried!

Have a wonderful cruise, dear friend.

Love, Patti.
I immediately put the bath mats to good use.  And Patti was correct -- as she almost always was with her practical tips.  The mats work perfectly.

But why did I save that little note?  Her death was not imminent.  In fact, it appeared she was regaining strength.

And it certainly was not because I am sentimental.  I usually do not save anything for its sentimental value.  If it does not have a current utility, out it goes.

Maybe that's it.  I knew the note would have utility.  Because it brought back fresh memories of Patti's kindness, thoughtfulness, and ability to put herself second to others.  In other words, the very virtues that make true friends.

I have now transferred the note from the financial documents pile to a folder containing items that trigger similar memories concerning others.  Its contents will be my secret.  For now.  After all, nothing remains secret for long in the land of Mexpatriate.

And that may have been the cheapest hook I have ever written.

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