Farewell To Old Friends

I think sometimes that I must be losing my mind. As a part of the "mellowing" process associated with aging, I have started to feel empathy for any and every living thing. I can't seem pass up the collection jars by the cash registers at convenience stores that solicit funds for animal shelters, I don't do anything about the chipmunks, moles and rabbits that occasionally inhabit my yard. I even capture insects that make their way into my house and take them outside to release them instead of destroying them like I used to . As I age, I find that have a different attitude toward life in all it's forms and yes, maybe even a reverence towards all living things. Call it an acceptance of my own mortality if you like.

But when this feeling is extended to non-living things, that's when I start to question my sanity.

I first noticed this when I had to dispose of my old television set several years ago. The television set had given me years of good service but it had ceased to work and wasn't worth what it would have cost to repair it. I purchased a new set but then realized that I had to do something with the old one. I borrowed a pick up truck from a friend and the two of us drove out to the dump where I planned to dispose of it. As I got into the back of the truck to throw the TV onto the dump, I froze. My friend asked me if I was all right and, for a minute, I didn't answer him. I thought back to the first night I had the set and how excited I was that I was finally going to be able to watch a game in color in my own house. I wasn't prepared for what happened that night as Maryland absolutely destroyed us in the ACC Tournament. We had friends over to watch the game with us and I decided that night never to do that again. It only magnified the pain of the loss, having to be somewhat civil in front of friends. I sat in deep thought as my wife kept asking me if I was all right. Each time I said, "No" until she stopped asking. In a weak attempt at humor, I blamed the loss on the TV set, reasoning that the old black and white TV had never let me down so completely.

I forgave the new TV over time and we became very good friends. I saw many Tar Heel thrills on that set and it just didn't seem right that I would toss it off the back of the pick up truck just because it had ceased to function. It was like it had become a member of the family. The memories of all the last second wins, the "whammies" I had tried to put on opposing players when they were shooting critical free throws, the shouts I had made at Billy Packer and Dick Vitale, and NCAA Selection Sunday all came to mind as I looked at the set about to be abandoned. My friends must have figured it out because he jumped on the back of the truck and gave the set a push and it was over. The set was gone forever but I admit I thought of it the next time it rained.

Starting to get the picture about my sanity?

The most recent thing of this kind occurred when I had to get rid of my Carolina basketball shoes that I had worn for years. Initially, I bought the shoes just for trips to games in the Dean Dome but over time, I started wearing them on game day even if I was not going to be making the trip to Chapel Hill. Eventually, I started wearing them regularly and, as with all things material, they wore out. I tried to repair them with every sealer known to man but the fact of the matter was that the shoes were worn out. I kept them under the bed for a while but finally the day came. I had to get a new pair of basketball shoes and there was no longer a place in my life for a worn out pair of Carolina basketball shoes.

I placed them on top of the garbage can and harbored some faint notion that the garbage man would rescue them and put them to some good use. I was dreaming, of course, because those shoes would no longer serve a useful purpose on this planet, and it was time for them to go. Yes, I admit that I thought of them the first time it rained after I discarded them. There's something about rain and discarded items that once enjoyed protection against the elements while a member of the family. Ask someone who has buried a loved one.

Given the experiences I have had with discarding UNC related items, I can only hope that my "Heelmobile" never conks out on me. I really don't believe I could take having it towed off to some automotive grave yard, but that could get expensive. I have my priorities straight though and I am already checking on the price of a new engine, transmission and other vital parts of a van. That van isn't going anywhere as long as ole RamFanatic is kicking so I don't have to worry about the rain thing.