Discarding a symbol of personal growth

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Column by Ben Sheroan, editor

By Ben Sheroan

Cleaning the shed was long overdue.

It’s quite obvious I do not suffer from an excessive compulsive nature. Organization for me is a stack on the desk, a cluttered box of mementos hidden in the closet or a pile of forgotten items on a shelf.

I blame it on creativity. While you are organizing your papers and arranging your video collection alphabetically by title in a subset divided by genre, I am stuck in the other side of my brain.

(One blessing of creativity is the ability to rationalize my shortcomings.)

Reorganizing the shed and finally managing to get both mowers and other garden tools inside it again was the weekend project. In the process of moving, shifting, stacking and shuffling, typically some things are discarded.

In this case, the trash pile included a gasoline can with no lid, some nearly empty spray bottles of outdated herbicides and a leaking bag of cat-box filler.

A dented snow shovel stood in the back corner. It was long ago replaced by a sleek, modern shovel with one of those curved aluminum handles that makes it easier on your back to clear the driveway.

While its metal scoop was rusty, twisted and chipped, the battered shovel had survived many moves and previous shed cleanings. It was well past time for this shovel to be tossed out.

But it also carries memories.

On a warm September day more than 30 years ago, I purchased that snow shovel at Perry’s Hardware in Vine Grove. There would be no snow in the forecast for months. In fact, I probably had a more pressing need for a lawn rake.

But when the snow finally did come, the sidewalk in front of our tiny two-bedroom home on Brown Street quickly was attacked. The shovel did its job well.

So excited by the accomplishment, I moved on to clear the sidewalk at the church next door.

Shoveling snow is not a particularly joyous event. But in this case, having been prepared with the right tool for the job brought a special sense of satisfaction.

The shovel was a symbol. It was the first purchase of a necessity that I remember making before it was needed. I was a grown-up, not just a married kid with a child on the way but someone preparing for life’s hurdles.

I’m not one who gets caught up in things. Possessions don’t impress me. Deeds do. And this shovel was more than something I owned, it was a sign of maturity.

So with a hint of sadness and perhaps even a random tear, that busted shovel was placed in the discard pile.

The new Sears lawn tractor fits in the shed now. The trash truck carried my shovel away.

Goodbye, old friend.

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.