“A penny saved is a penny earned.” These are some things that are saved: money, time, effort, lives, souls.

Save (sav) v. saved, saving, saved
To rescue from harm, danger, or loss, bring to a safe condition. 2. To keep in a safe, intact condition, safeguard. 3. To prevent or reduce the waste, loss, or expenditure of. 4. To keep for future use or enjoyment; store. 5. To treat with care to avoid fatigue, wear, or damage, to spare. 6. To make unnecessary; to obviate. 7. To deliver from sin or the wages of sin; redeem.

I currently have a drawer that houses things that have no place in my life, but yet cannot be discarded. This is what lives in this drawer: 2 small plastic bins of photographs, most that I took with my Brownie camera but some from albums long since disintegrated, and a Hohner Golden Melody harmonica that belonged to my mother.

There is a porcelain painted basket that was gifted to me by my mother- it had belonged to her long-time helper, Catherine Foster. Catherine gave the basket to mother as a gift and it had originally belonged to her grandmother who was born a slave. There is a small round holder for a communion wafer; my father’s stuffed rabbit- given to my mother by her mother-in-law, Joanna Daly Boss; a red, green and white hand-knit Christmas stocking that says “Susu”; tiny red canvas sneakers (baby shoes, Jennifer, 49), tiny blue boots (baby shoes, Dylan, 45); a black belt made from apple seeds gifted to me by Mark Sean Finnen (deceased); a white green and maroon hand-printed cotton scarf from India; three hand-built ceramic pieces- 2 marked J.O. and one marked Dylan; 2 circa 1920 clutch purses, one green and white beaded, one shiny gold (from Prentiss Phillips O’Toole, my maternal grandmother).

There is a flowered ceramic keepsake box. It contains notes in my mother’s handwriting, a Baltimore Oriole feather, and mother’s driver’s license. There is a sterling silver stamp dispenser that sat on my father’s desk from a time when stamps came in rolls and were licked. There is a wooden box with a picture of my 2 oldest grandchildren dressed for Halloween on it- inside there is a shell necklace from Mother’s 75th birthday in Florida, a finger puppet of an Indian god, a Super Mom pin, a breast cancer survivor pin with the #3, a red breast cancer pin that says “care, be aware”,  a painter’s palette pin from Jane Peterson’s funeral, a small ceramic penguin, a Colossal Pictures pin, 2 blue poker chips, a roller skate tack, a small ceramic figure of one of the 7 dwarfs, a 10 cent piece from Canada, a button hook found in the wall of our house, 4 hairpins and 2 safety pins.

There is a ceramic bell with a bird painted on it, a small stuffed red bear with white hearts gifted to me by my teaching colleague at the Leverett Elementary School, Alison Ellis, and the 1st grade on the occasion of my hysterectomy, an orange wooden painted snowman sculpture signed Mary, 2006 on the back, a class of 1966 Holy Name School diploma, my Girl Scout Troop 234 sash with too many badges to count, Pius Readers Tenth Guild certificate from Ursuline Academy, 1964, all of my expired passports, lots of report cards from this school or that and a picture of my paternal grandfather, Eugene George Boss, in his christening gown.

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks and my thoughts crystallized upon hearing that our son, Dylan, had fled the house in Boulder Creek, California where he had been living to escape an oncoming wildfire. Dylan had noticed that an ash layer was forming. This made him concerned. He hitched his trailer to the work van, encouraged his housemate Ann-Marie and her daughter to gather some things, and they left. Thirty minutes later the neighborhood was evacuated.

Dylan is currently at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville. As of today, his shop in Felton is still standing. As far as I know, Ann-Marie, James and Susannah do not know the fate of their home.


What would I keep under that very stressful situation? Not necessarily in order of importance, I think I would keep my husband, dog, keys, wallet, phone, charger, glasses, address book. With a few more minutes I’d add pillows, blankets, dog leash, dog food, water, underwear and socks, flashlight, toothbrush. There is nothing in the drawer, although too precious to discard, that I would risk my life for. Kind of puts possessions in perspective.

I am thinking deeply of all the people in harm's way who have lost everything they own. May they keep their sense of humor, their optimism, and their happy memories.

“Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

These are some of the things that are kept: secrets, health, time, memories, the faith, hope.

Keep (kep) v. kept, keeping, keeps
To retain possession of. 2. To store, put customarily. 3. To take in one’s charge temporarily. 4. To provide with the necessities of life; support. 5. A. To supply with room and board for a charge. B. To raise and feed. 6. To have the resources to retain for pleasure or use. 7. To have in ready supply. 8. To manage, tend. 9. To maintain by making current entries in. 10. To cause to continue in some condition or position. 11. To preserve and protect, save. 12. To detain. 13. To confine. 14. To prevent or deter. 15. To maintain. 16. To adhere to; fulfill. 17. To refrain from divulging. 18. To celebrate, observe.