Things of Value

You’ve heard the question asked, “If your home were on fire, what you try to save?” Most people answer that they would rescue people and pets and as many photographs and memories as possible.

The question we faced was similar. We were forced to consider, “If we have to evacuate our home, what should we take with us?” Or, put another way, which of our possessions could we live without?Our area was just a few miles from largest wildfire in Colorado’s history. We were on “evacuation alert.” If we got the call to evacuate, we would have to grab whatever we could save and leave immediately.

We packed suitcases with a few clothes and toiletries and set them by the door. Though these things were not valuable, time was. We moved the computers … I made a living with my computer. We cleared out books we sold from our home office. Those books represented our livelihood. We packed financial records – who wants to hassle with the government for years over missing documents?

Now, what else? We snatched family pictures from the walls and packed scrapbooks in boxes – all sentimental objects that could not be replaced.

Then we took a hard look at all that remained. There was a lamp that belonged to my great grandmother. It was a connection to my family.

And there was the piano my wife Bev learned to play when she was a little girl. Not of great value in itself, but another family connection.

We would be leaving a hutch that belonged to her grandmother and handmade quilts and gifts from dear friends and family. All represented connections to people and memories we value, but if we were to be evacuated immediately, we would have no way to move these items.

I’ve never been much attached to things, but the thought of leaving behind something passed down through our families or handmade for us by dear friends saddened me deeply. It’s about what they represented — family and love. Each had a story to tell, and some of them spoke in the voices of our parents and grandparents and a few friends as close to us as family.

The fire never reached our home. We were lucky. And though I felt grateful that all was spared, I realized also just how fortunate I had been in another way. I saw just how rich my life had been. Not in things I owned, but in love I’ve known.

Someone wisely said, “There are people so poor that the only thing they have is money.” And now I knew. I was indeed rich. I was rich in friends and family. Rich in memories. Rich in everything that really matters.

I wonder if there is any other kind of wealth worth seeking.

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