On Labor Day, instead of resting from his labors, Bill decided to tackle a giant project: cleaning out our garage, which was so full of crap that there was just a narrow, circuitous path to the one working garage door. Now, he didn't ask for my help with this task, and I didn't offer. We both know that organization is not my forte; in fact, my presence would only hinder his efforts since I have a habit of exclaiming, "Oh! Is that where that was? Cool!" whenever he puts something in the discard pile.
I thought it was a peculiar way to spend a perfectly good holiday, but Bill seemed excited about it, so I left him to it. Little did I know that he would find a wonderful treasure hidden in all that junk.
Bill almost carried my old iMac out to the curb, but thankfully Ethan spotted it and said, "Oh! Is that where that was? Cool!"
"There's no reason to keep it," Bill argued feebly. "No one has used it in at least two years."
I hurried over to put in my two cents. "That could be worth some money someday."
"When? Why would anyone want to pay anything for this old thing?"
"Don't you realize that that was the FIRST iMac? Byron and I waited in line early in the morning to buy it on the day it was released. I'm sure there are Mac geeks out there who would love to have this. It's so retro."
"I dare you to put it on Craigslist and see what you can get for it," Bill challenged.
"My dad wants it," Ethan interjected.
"How do you know?" I asked.
"Because he was talking about it just last week. He said he wished he would have kept the iMac instead of you."
"I let him pick whichever computer he wanted," I said, only a bit defensively. "The other computer was better and faster."
"But this one just looks cool. Can Dad have it?"
"Sure," I said.
Bill warned that we'd have to turn it on and make sure it still worked, and then I'd have to retrieve any data I might want before wiping the hard drive clean. "And I don't want it sitting in the TV room for weeks," he added.
"Oh, I'll take care of it right away," I promised.
It was only after several days of Ethan's nagging that we drug the somewhat portable computer out of the garage and up to the TV room. We set it up on the floor and plugged it in, and in moments we heard the harmonious chord of the "happy Mac" start-up tone.
I found multiple spreadsheets I'd designed for the Chevron convenience store ten years ago, resumes for myself and several family members and friends, and... a bunch of letters to my grandma!
The kids' bedtime routines were forgotten as I sat cross-legged on the floor, lost in decade-old chronicles of my old life, right around the time of my divorce. This was a priceless find! Back then, I hadn't started journaling yet, so I had thought these detailed memories were lost forever.
By far, the best thing about the letters was what I wrote about Ethan. Of course, I had written about the dinosaur story and about Ethan's fascination with cows and chickens. But there were other stories I'd completely forgotten....
Letter to Grandma, 11/15/99 (Age 2)
Ethan has matured so much in the last six months, and I am very proud of him. He's about 2-1/2 now. He knows the whole alphabet and can sing it all by himself. He can count from one to ten (although he usually forgets five and six, for some reason). He also loves to sing and has memorized many songs from his Barney and Veggie Tales videos.... The most important thing about Ethan, though, is his sweet disposition. He is very lovable and mostly obedient--at least as obedient as a 2-year-old can be expected to be. Hopefully we will be able to visit soon so you can see Ethan for yourself. Physically, he is still a little small, but he is no longer considered abnormal on the growth chart.
Letter to Grandma, 2/4/01 (Age 4)
I am really looking forward to seeing you again, and so is Ethan. We were watching an old video tonight of a visit to Indiana, and he recognized you and Grandpa and asked when we could go to your house again. I am amazed at his memory. I don't think he got it from me.
Thought I would close with a funny anecdote about Ethan--at least I thought it was funny, but maybe I have a crude sense of humor. Anyway, the other day we saw a picture of a snail. Ethan said, "Mom, I like snails." When I asked him why, he said, "Snails don't poop on you."
"Oh" was all I could think of to say.
He went on to explain, "That's because they don't have bottoms." I hated to laugh as he was quite serious, but I just had to. He's such a funny kid.
Letter to Grandma, 2/28/02 (Age 4)
Bill built Ethan a large, low table for his Thomas the Train set. Ethan loves it, but my only complaint is that now he won't pay attention when I read his bedtime stories. He plays with the train and murmurs to himself. He says things like "Watch this" or "This is gonna be cool." But he's just talking to himself. I think it's so cute.
He says lots of cute things still, and he's very sharp. Last week he said he wants a baby sister. I told him I'm not married so I can't have a baby now. He tilted his head to one side and said, "Maybe Bill could marry you. Then we could have a baby." And Bill was standing right there! We both tried not to laugh because Ethan was being very serious.
He also asked why Daddy can't come live with us. He said that I couldn't live with Daddy because Gina lives there. But I live alone, so why can't Daddy sleep at our house? I don't know quite how to answer questions like that....
Letter to Grandma, 5/25/02 (Age 5)
He turned five in April and is getting so mature. I might have mentioned on the phone that he learned to ride his bike without training wheels last weekend. He worked at it all weekend until he could start the bike off on his own. I was so proud that he was persistent like that. He was proud of himself, also; he was telling everyone about it--even perfect strangers at the store!
Ethan is learning to write and trying to learn to read, and I think he's doing very well. He's sending you some pictures. I think there will probably be dinosaurs. I'll let him decide....We play games pretty often, and he almost always wins. I don't know why that is. I don't even have to let him win! He gets so tickled when he wins, but he's learning to be a gracious loser as well.
Ethan's favorite games are the ones he makes up himself. His very favorite game is one he named "Why's This Couch Moving?". Here's how you play: Ethan, Bill , Mommy, or a combination thereof hide under the couch cushions. Then the remaining party(s) make a big production of sitting or lying on the cushions, which of course begin to move up and down mysteriously. The people on the couch must ask, "Why is this couch moving?" until there are audible sounds of laughter under the cushions. Then the cushions are thrown onto the floor, and everyone is surprised to find Ethan (or whoever) hiding there. The game gets a little tiresome for the adults, but Ethan never tires of it. We play several times a week, usually three or four times in a row.
So, what happened to the iMac? What do you think? It's still sitting on the floor in the TV room, of course.