I don’t know for sure how it all started, but over the years, my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg collected a number of old license plates that were both unique and average. My guess is that he found one that he really liked, and he saved it, putting it up on the wall of the garage. Before long, the number of plates grew, because there was always another unique license plate to add to the collection. After a while the license plate collection grew to include plates from the different states he had been in, and his son, Ron Schulenberg even brought him some from the countries he was in during Desert Storm…which were quite different from all the others.
These license plates started out gracing the walls of the garage, which is a fitting place for such a collection, but as time went on, there were enough of then to warrant adding the barn shop my father-in-law had, and finally the back fence to his display areas. In reality, while I found these interesting to look at from time to time, my father-in-law’s license plate was not something that occupied any kind of a special place in my mind. I suppose that if I was a guy, I might have felt differently about it. It is a guy type of collection, after all.
After someone passes away, and you find yourself sorting through all their things, you begin to really get a feel for what was important to them. Not just the major things they had placed a high degree of importance on, but the lesser things too. The things they just liked, because they thought those things were cool. That was how it was for me, when we started going through my father-in-law’s things. No, I can’t say that I wanted those old license plates, but they were interesting. They were a reminder of my father-in-law, and the things he liked.
After the funeral, we took some pictures, as often happens after funerals, simply because many people who come, don’t live here and you want their pictures, because you don’t see them often enough. Many of the people in the family wanted their picture taken by the back fence, showing that collection of license plates. The other day, as I was looking through some of the old pictures, I came across those that were taken that day. It made me think with interest about the array of license plates my father-in-law had collected, and in reality about the kind of man he was.
The things that were cherished to him were really the life moments. Things like his knife and watch, his tools, his woodworking supplies and chair making supplies, and yes, the license place collection, were things that had a special meaning to him. They were like the stories of his life. They were the accomplishments he had made, the places he had been, and the reminders of just how precious life was. While the license plates were not something I was interested in receiving, I am very glad that I have pictures of them to remember his passion for life.
While I was at our family Christmas party Saturday night, I noticed all the people using electronic devices for entertainment. I know this is a subject that has been beaten to death by a lot of people, but I guess I have a little different view of it. I know that people may not socialize as much with those around them, and I suppose that is a problem, but it is the way things are these days…and in all reality, I am one of those people who gets on their phone a lot. I try not to get on it too much when I’m with my husband or kids, but the reality is that it’s hard not to. I have had to learn to be available…mostly for my kids and the family members that I am caregiver for. There are no other options. You are needed at all hours of the day and night, and so you keep your cell phone close.
With texting, you can send the message and then get back to your conversation, so it leaves you with less time that you are ignoring the person you are with, but not everything involves texting. I have moments when I get an idea for my writing…even in the middle of the night, and if I don’t put it down somewhere, I find myself thinking, “What was that idea again?” And believe me, that is frustrating. I have used my phone to Google something that those I’m with and I are talking about, such as parts some actor played in some show, or what day a battle took place in World War II, which usually is something I am quite interested in. A smart phone is truly an unlimited source of information, and I must say that I seem much smarter when I use it.
Yes, we live in a world of everything at our fingertips, and that is not always a bad thing. I have placed orders from my phone, transferred funds from my phone, emailed from my phone, and I can even get my proof of insurance for license plates from my phone now. The smart phone is simply a time and even sanity saver. How can it save your sanity you ask. Well, tell me, what three year old can’t play a game on a smart phone. When you child is crying, and you are in public, that can be a definite sanity saver. And when you older child is in a situation whereby they need to sit still, and they really don’t want to, a smart phone is a great form of entertainment that will keep them out of trouble and save you from embarrassment. And when you are in a public place and your kid is one of the ones who is sitting quietly and entertaining himself, that is a good thing. You get to look like the awesome mom or dad.
I can think of lots of reasons that we should try to be aware of those around us , and limit our time on the cell phone or other electronics, as a show of respect, and I can think of lots of reasons that the smart phone is not such a bad idea. I guess it is a matter of trying not to abuse it, and trying to be respectful and understanding of those who aren’t using it. Of course one other thing I have noticed, and that I have tried to do myself, is to include others in what you are doing with your smart phone. I usually try to show Bob some of the things I find of Facebook, because he loves a good bit of humor. And it lets him be a part of what I’m doing even if he doesn’t smart phone…because not everybody does, you know. And here I was just thinking, “Everybody does it!!” Ok, almost everybody does it. Admit it…you do it too.