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Please don't throw me away

Rick Ryckeley's picture

No one would think about spring cleaning on the first day of January. No one, that is, except The Wife.

After 13 wonderful years of marriage, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. But even I was surprised at where I found her that afternoon.

Still knee deep in her closet, with filled and yet-to-be filled bags around her, she looked up and smiled, “Sometimes the only way to get rid of stuff that bugs you is just to bag it up and throw it away.”

Okay, stop laughing – she wasn’t talking about me.

Unlike The Wife, whether it’s at the first blossom of spring or during the dead of winter, there’s a good reason why I don’t throw things away. It never fails that when I throw away something that hasn’t seen the light of day in years, I undoubtedly need it a week later. Then I have to go out and buy another one.

Now, I’m not averse to buying tools. Wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles of the giant hardware store with the orange roof is one of my favorite things to do. But searching for misplaced tools isn’t.

That’s why in my tool room, there are currently four monkey wrenches, three tape measures, and an odd assortment of hammers. I say currently for a reason. After all, the day has just started.

There’s positive and negative to never throwing anything away. The positive is that when you need a tool, you’re positive that you have it. The negative is knowing the exact whereabouts of said tool.

Just because you know you have five screwdrivers, two socket sets, and three paint roller handles doesn’t mean you can lay your hands on them when you actually need them.

With so much “never thrown away” stuff to look through in the basement, it just takes less time to go out and buy new.

The Wife is different. I married a minimalist. She throws away all the junk so she can actually find what she needs. What a novel concept.

Finished with her closet, next up was the pantry and all the kitchen cabinets. I offered to help several times, but she said it was a job that only she could do. “Unlike you, I have no trouble throwing out stuff that’s old and I never use.”

Again, stop laughing. I’m thankful she wasn’t talking about me. At least I don’t think she was.

Look backwards over the last year, what am I most thankful for?

I’m thankful for The Wife. It’s been another year, yet she still loves me. Why? I really don’t know, but for some reason she does, and I’m eternally grateful. She’s the love of my life, the humor in my stories and my muse. I’ve learned that together there’s no adversary we can’t overcome. What fun we will have together this year!

A special note to The Wife: During the coming year, I know that I may bug you, but please don’t throw me away.

To be honest, if you set me out by the curb, even though I have a few metal parts, I’m still not considered a recyclable. And I don’t think the garbage guy will pick me up either.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for over 26 years and a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His book is available at]

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