“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~Khalil Gibran
Possessions most often do not equal happiness. A lesson learned…again…today during move daze….
The movers called yesterday and my wife spoke to them. Yes, they had wardrobes for the clothes, but they would be the lay-down type. Yes, they’d be there between 10am and 1pm, but there was no clarification on whether that meant that they would be packing between those hours and done by early afternoon, or rather would they be showing up sometime in that range a-la the cable guy.
No matter. My daze had already set in. Partially from about three hours of sleep the night before (and before). But more so from the constant sorting of our stuff – the massive amount of possessions that had to be gone through, and all gone through over the last week.
All that compounded by uncooperative weather.
In Florida in the summer we can expect late afternoon thunderstorms most days, like clockwork. However, it’s Move Daze, so what happens? Yup, the heavens open up and proceed to offer a deluge starting at…yes…the movers’ show time.
And it doesn’t stop raining! And neither Jody nor I want our possessions wet.
So, it’s partially a blessing that the movers finally arrive at 3pm, when the rain finally begins to subside. They quickly realize, however, that 1) they used all their wardrobes, and 2) they used the larger crate on their truck, both for the morning pickup. The crate they do have won’t fit our stuff!! Yikes. Oh, and our large TV is too large for express shipment – fair’nough, and, we can’t ship the lamps express as they are “furniture.” Okay, it’s just stuff, and we’ll get it 2-4 weeks later with our main household goods shipment anyway…. No worries.
Now, that’s all the dizziness of move daze. But that’s not the real point of this story. The movers were two older African American men, surprisingly older, like clocking in at 63 and 67. They were particularly polite and cheerfully apologetic about their tardiness and the fact that they were not properly equipped for my pickup, but of course I’m becoming more and more upset, being bemused at the deteriorating situation. They sense this and call their office to have their supervisor mediate, who calls and says he’s on the way with another truck, two different sizes of empty crates for all our stuff, and wardrobes for our clothes.
But I couldn’t get over the work these men were doing. And doing it with a smile on their face, without complaint or any appearance of distress, over easily a 10 hour day. I simply say to the leader-guy, “What are you guys doing? You’re too old for this kindda work! This is a young-man’s game….”
He stops his work, slowly gazes up with a smile, and replies in a low almost unintelligible voice, all the while grinning larger and larger, “Can’t get em young’uns to do the work; somebody got to do it….”
Where does this type of work ethic spring from? I know one place. Turns out BOTH men were ex-military, one Marine and the other Army. These men had both served in Vietnam. Both left the military around year 14 of service. And both had children currently in the service, where both were being very firm about those kids retiring from the service so their offspring could avoid similar fates in old age.
But this story gets better.
Upon hearing about me going to Okinawa, the leader-guy again stopped and smiled even BIGGER. “I was in Okinawa in 1972!”
“Did you enjoy it?”
“The nurses sure were pretty.”
“I was medivac’d through Okinawa after being hit in ‘Nam, or Cambodia, not really sure….”
This is just an odd coincidence; I often, almost invariably introduce Jody to people as the “Prettiest Nurse in the Navy!” While she no longer embarrasses over this title like she used too, I’m not sure she realizes the healing power that she welds, especially for young, hurt, scared boys. I tell the leader guy to follow me around a couple of corners through the home, and point out a framed bridal portrait of Jody hanging proudly on the wall.
“Devil Dog, that, my friend, is the prettiest dang nurse in the Navy, and she’ll shortly be working at the hospital in Okinawa!”
He grins and replies, “Good gracious, she’ll mend the boys but break their hearts!
The universe pretty much unfolds how it should. The daze of the day had given way to a certain clarity about life. That the stuff we had set aside for our express shipment really had little to do with our upcoming Far East Adventure. That someone who had given so much physically and mentally during his youth, who maintains such a positive and upbeat attitude and demeanor in the face of what could be characterized as brutal physical existence in the summer heat of northern Florida, places so little value on “things.”
And I start to pull things out of our express shipment. Partly because I want to accelerate the packing timeline (it was very late already). Partly because the military expects the express shipment to be around 1,000 pounds (the actual number is very hard to find), and I knew we had too much. But mostly because I truly wish to focus on the things that really will matter in Okinawa.
It is not the stuff we bring, we buy, we junk, use or sell.
It is the people we hold dear in our lives, those that we love, those that we befriend, and even those that simply cross our paths and help show us the way. And it is those people whose lives we touch, sometimes profoundly for life, at other times simply through a healing smile and touch, that lend meaning to our mutual being.
Ninety cubic feet of storage and 900 pounds (estimated) later, I shake the crews’ hands and wish them well. Semper Fi my new friends…..