By Chastity Harris
February is a month of anniversaries. It marks the celebration of love, presidents and even the birth of my beautiful twin daughters. For me it also brings memories of the brother I lost on February 22, 2008.
Each year I sort through a few more boxes of his stowed belongings and come out with some new surprises. This year I came upon a memory he had tucked away in his wallet.
You can tell a lot about people by what's in their wallet or purse.
For instance, I have large quantities of receipts in my purse for my expense reports. Call it disorganization if you want, I prefer to think of it as a relaxed filing system. Look at the details of the receipts and you can figure out the entire layout of my sales territory. Keep digging in the depths of my handbag and you'll find clip-on sparkle earrings, paint swatches and fuzzy pom-poms. It would not take a detective to figure out I have little girls who are divas, I am redecorating my kitchen, and I use "warm fuzzies" as a reward for good behavior.
What kind of story are you carrying around with you?
In going through my brother's wallet, I found lots of telling tokens. There was a club card for his favorite Mexican restaurant that was so worn out he'd laminated the frayed pieces together. His collection of home grown hot peppers was represented by a pepper postage stamp. In the window where most people keep their driver's license he had a copy of the serenity prayer. It was there, behind that printed prayer, that I found something incredibly meaningful.
A faded year-old Wal-Mart receipt for $108.95.
At first I couldn't see the relevance of this slip of paper. The purchases were T-shirts, shorts and socks, hardly high value purchases. Why had he kept it? More so, why was it so worn out? There were check marks by each item and the receipt had been creased and re-creased.
It wasn't until I checked the date and location that I remembered the shopping trip. I had been with my brother that day. It was his final trip to rehab and I had come to visit him for the day. We had gone to lunch together, walked the Old Town Mall in Winchester and gone shopping. It was the first time in years we had spent time together just the two of us, it would be one of the last.
Did he keep the receipt because that day meant so much to him? I can't say for sure. I know that the sword he bought in a specialty shop that day is on the wall of my craft room. Doesn't everyone have a sword in their craft room? I also know that for some reason he believed I was miraculous. He would tell anyone that listened what a fantastic mother I was. Nothing I accomplished surprised him, because he expected me to fly.
I can't count the things my brother left behind. We have an authentic light saber, every video gaming system known to man and Matrix action figures. Beyond that, he left me the belief in adventure, an irresistible desire to rescue the downtrodden, and the determination not to disappoint his memory.
Besides what's in my purse, what would I be leaving behind if I suddenly left this world? I never let my family leave without saying I love you, but I want to do more for them. I want my daughters to know how to be strong women. I want my son to know how to treat his wife and family one day. They all need to know how to stand up for their values and be who they are, and that I believe they are stronger and more wonderful than they can ever imagine.
In this day and age we need to try and leave the world a little better off for our time in it. I don't just mean recycling, though that is a good thing. Leave people better off for having known you. Make an impact on your family and on your world. Leave someone smiling one day when they sort through your wallet.
What are you going to leave behind?