There are apparently people who immediately get rid of every scrap of paper as soon as it is no longer needed. They clean out purses and briefcases every week. If they are no longer using said purse or briefcase…out it goes. It’s all terribly impressive.
But there’s a downside to being so organized and minimalistic. These folks never have the pleasure of opening a time capsule in their very own house.
This past weekend we put on a music event for a car dealership in Tulsa. David and I set up the sound system for the band (well, David did it with a little help from me because he actually knows what he’s doing and I don’t). While loading up all the equipment afterwards, David decided he should organize it all better, including getting a special case for the expensive microphones.
Then Sunday evening he comes into my office with a (very dusty) briefcase that he found in the closet under our stairs and said he was going to get a piece of foam to put inside to fit the microphones. He thought it was his old briefcase but when we opened it we discovered it was mine.
The next morning I dusted it off and decided to look through the contents. Oh, my. It was a veritable time capsule from the mid-90s.
The interesting thing was the time period it covered. I worked as charge nurse and then assistant manager of the rehab unit at our local hospital from 1992 to 1994. I was then offered and accepted a job as case manager for a hospice agency. I worked there from 1994 to 1996 and then, due to serious health issues, I quit and began homeschooling our kids. In the fall of 1996 I was so desperately ill with asthma that an E.R. doctor actually told me I might need to move somewhere else. My aunt and uncle graciously offered me the use of their beach house in California for a month. I took 10 year old Lisa with me, while Chris stayed with David because he was in the middle of soccer season.
This briefcase contained items which spanned that whole period:
- a pay slip from the hospital
- a nursing assessment sheet from hospice
- a couple of packages of topical wound dressing
- a homeschooling catalog
- letter that Lisa wrote to David and Chris when we were in California
- various miscellaneous items (including a sucker, of all things!)
- several Earl Grey tea bags
- a to-do list from July 8, 1996
This is what I found most interesting:
No wonder my health suffered during that time period. I was working full-time as a hospice nurse, keeping a spotless house, providing home-cooked meals, and had two young children. The stress of providing compassionate care for dying people and their families every day would have been plenty on its own. One of these days I’ll share some of the lessons I learned from that time in my life but suffice it to say that it wasn’t a healthy way to live.
As I looked through all the items in the briefcase I was flooded with memories and emotions. For the most part they were good memories but thinking back on my short career as a R.N. is a little bittersweet. I especially loved my time as a hospice nurse. It wasn’t a job…it was a calling. I will always be grateful for the experience but I’m also glad I had the opportunity to homeschool my kids.
Life is a series of experiences but we don’t often get to see several major episodes in such a clear snapshot as I did when I opened that briefcase. And that is why I’m glad I am not as organized as I probably should be.