COLUMN: Things we carry with us

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It’s been a long time since I peeked in a woman’s purse though I suspect women carry a plethora of things in their handbags. It’s the same with men’s wallets. In fact we all carry things with us, in our purses, wallets, glove boxes – who keeps gloves in glove boxes any more? – pants pockets and backpacks.

I know a friend who carries his grandfather’s pocketwatch with him most days. He’s a suit-and-tie guy but like many people, he wears a watch. Lots of us use our cell phones as watches any more.

My friend carries the pocketwatch out of habit, probably as a tribute to his grandfather.

There are lots of small keepsakes and cherishables many people keep close to them. Photos are a good example. I don’t have a wife or kids and while my mom would probably be happy if I carried a photo of her in my wallet, there’s none there.

Photos of nieces and nephews hang on my refrigerator next to postcards and magnets from trips.

I’m sure friends of mine carry photos of their wives and kids with them but cell phones hold photos, too, and people spend more time staring at their phones than they do opening their wallets.

My wallet is pretty spartan, a debit card, two credit cards and membership cards for Farm Bureau, Fraternal Order of Police and the Knights of Columbus. The last card asks that a priest be called in the event of an accident. That’s something a credit card won’t do for me.

The wallet is old, a sign of stinginess. I purchased it in in Uruguay years ago and the cow that donated it was a product of the country’s grassy interior. It cost all of a buck and I hate to give it up.

What else do we carry with us?

I took photos the other day of Claude Boehm and his son and grandson, Richard and Lee, planting grass seed near Evanston. Claude is 81 but remains active. As we chatted, he asked about the chapel I was building, which is nearly done.

Claude pulled a rosary out of his pocket. He carries it with him most days and mentioned that he carried one, not the same one, when he served in Korea.

I keep a rosary in my car and when I volunteer as a reserve police officer, I tuck it into a pocket.

Objects of faith matter to many of us, regardless of what church we go to. So do the spiritual rituals that mark our lives, from prayers before meals to visits to grave-sites of loved ones. Abstaining from meat during the Fridays of Lent remains a custom and a good number of nonCatholics I know follow the same practice.

Since I’ve written about St. Nicholas in this space for the past few years, several friends have resumed the custom of putting out their shoes the night before St. Nicholas Day.

I stopped by the Knights of Columbus March 18 for the St. Joseph Day dinner. The food was good, as was the fellowship. I hope the meal returns next year. It, too, could be a growing custom.

As Easter draws near, we might think of what we might do to remind us of what’s important in life. Perhaps that’s a simple act of kindness, a small donation to tornado relief, perhaps, or visiting a friend you haven’t seen in a while, visiting a cemetery or picking a few daffodils or other flowers for a wife, mother, sister or anyone who might need a reminder of what they mean to us. I might even find a photo of Mom for my old wallet.