Sunday greeted me with a closet full of clothes and boxes and photos that looked similar to the results of an earthquake. Everything was in a large and ominous pile in the middle of the floor. Immediately I understood what I would be doing for our Sunday relaxation. Luckily, Jonathon was graciously assisted me. A shelf had fallen…from 20 years of strain. During the massive clean -up measures I discovered items that I felt were long lost. There was a photo of Chancellor Wendler and I…and I had almost no grey hair. Along came my missing pocket watch that Grandpa Earl had gotten one for each of us, Aaron and Jonathon and I…in the 1990’s. I was preparing to discard a University of Illinois folder when Jonathon cautioned me that I did not want to relegate that folder to the bin…as it had his mom’s grade school diploma inside of it.
MJ witnessed Jonathon and my good work and decided that she and I should continue today in our noble effort of cleaning out the master closet. I discovered TV Guides when they were still small and informative magazines. There was a Southern Illinoisan Newspaper that’s headline proclaimed that Obama Wins. I traveled in time as I read documents that I had been a part of writing such as the Civil Service Excellence Study and The Building Services Handbook and the Building Services Operations Manual. Suddenly…my long missing binoculars that I had received as a gift from Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale for 20 years of service. And…of course…my trench coats that I took great stock in as they covered my suits and sport coats in the winter’s wind and frost. MJ found a dress that she had worn when she was 16. She found other garments that she had worn in the weddings of others when she was in her 20’s.
When I see an old photo or discover an old newspaper clipping or headline or inspect a garment that I have not worn in many years…I remember what I was thinking and doing and wishing and hoping for…when I was living through the time of the item that has been not thought of…for many years. I was immersed in those times…and little else mattered at those moments…now they are but a fond memory and many of the values that were so important at those times have been replaced by subjects that are pertinent to the present chapter of my life. I loved my black three quarter length coats. They were expensive and I perceived that I looked the part of my role as a manager when I was wearing them. In even earlier days I coveted leather jackets and leather coats. A leather coat…to me….was the epitome of being well dressed. I had spent much of my youth and early adulthood not being well dressed…and I enjoyed not looking shabby and disheveled. I came from the generation that you were not supposed to leave the house without you shirt tucked in and your hair combed.
I have saved a lot of items…and never looked at them since… Things that I was certain that i was going to peruse and enjoy on a regular basis…I have forgotten. As we age we change. New chapters in our lives bring with them…different priorities. For many years I sought the approval of leaders at SIUC and the protection of my wonderful staff at Building Services. If any of them suffered…I suffered. I worried and fretted about my charge and the people that were counting on me 24/7 and 365 days per year. My University and it’s welfare were never far from my thoughts. I was constantly planning and staging ways that Building Services could enhance its role in the most vital of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale’s needs…the recruitment and retention of our most precious students. I have noticed…with great sadness… of late…that the recognition of the hard working and supremely dedicated Civil Service Staff does not seem to be the critical priority in administration’s long term planning? Perhaps I have misunderstood…or as the saying goes, ‘The proof of the pudding…is in the eating.’