Please Pass the Enough. Hold the Gravy.

“The opposite of scarcity isn’t abundance. It’s enough.”

Dr. Brene Brown.

A wallet from the Nixon years, one dollar and 38 cents in change, three key chains cleaving to a single key that fits nothing that will matter the rest of my life.

These I moved recently from my mother’s townhouse. She’s 92, moving in her quiet grace about an assisted living, while I move to trash bags the residue of her last 20 years.

I’m tossing it from a house over which I will shed tears in a few days. I know myself and its memories well enough to predict this.

The house is sold, but the contents of true home will never see transaction. True home is not found in the yellowing important papers long impotent, the old remote controls my father feared might burn the house down, or a set of VHS tapes once hallowed as if they contain interviews with Moses. It’s all junk now to my mother, and the spirit of my father.

They have no use for these and so much else they harvested. That includes the old cedar chest containing my baby records and heirlooms of childhood. It always looked like a prop from the Addams Family. A coffin like wooden Tupperware preserving nothing. A stubbed toe in waiting. Now it just lies there, still in the way, a reminder the contents of a house will make no lasting home for anyone. For all it’s heirloom value, the contents of that old casket do not demand to get seen or read, ever again. Just some froth blown off the top of being alive. Dead, it just hasn’t found its ground.

Gloomy sounding, for certain, isn’t it? My mom would scowl a tad and say, “Let’s talk about something else.” But wait. There is true abundance here.

We must speak of — enough.

My father found this abundance on the days he finally had enough to eat. Such days scarcely came in the Canton, North Carolina of the Great Depression. He and his brothers and sister went hungry as very small children. There was far from enough, not even of soap and warm water. He’d retreat to the YMCA to take the dignity of a bath. He left schooling to work so the family table wore more food. Even scarcely enough beat the hell out of virtually nothing. Barely enough can seem a feast in the mouth of a hungry little boy.

Fast forward. My mom and dad feasted together when they lived in peace. When their marriage held grins and laughs and dreams that did not come with fenders, glassware, or refrigeration the size of a Buick, they had enough. And their enough became life abundant.

Now I’m left in the afterglow. Clearing out what’s left of the house they made so lovely, I live in the simple — nearly moronic — truth that Love will never live in a drawer. No cabinet will hold its touch or its echo. The old cedar chest downstairs smells of musty pages, not lusty fun. Two people in love can freeze some of it in photographs. I dig those. But Faulkner might remind us even the family pictures will finally lay dying in the dark. While pausing to take one, we’re reminded we might have taken instead a kiss or a smiling glance or a tender hand at play in our own. The memory worth far more than a Polaroid of Uncle Julius with a wooden cowboy, or Aunt Willie groping Minnie Mouse.

The Love is enough. More than enough, it turns out. And it’s far too big to fit those 4 crock pots Mama kept. Seems she planned to slow cook for every nicotine addict in North Carolina. And never did.

David Letterman loved a Thanksgiving season joke that simply went, “That ain’t gravy.” Turns out neither is all the stuff we all accumulate as valuable, across years, including Aunt Kitty’s unused burial bloomers and dad’s new tie tack still unworn since its unwrapping, Christmas day, 1969. Yes, this is true even of the true heirlooms someone will have to paper and box and find some new place to stow. Much of it an inelegant sufficiency amounting to way too much.

This task of throw out and box up calls us to let go before we must. Let what looks like the gravy of this life hit the garbage can, not the storage drawers. For in the dewy grass of right now there waits the tender breath of one we love against our neck, the giggle of our child and the hot breath of the dog who won’t live nearly long enough. A loving hand in our own, the glance that says I adore you, the touch or word that say — you are more than enough for me.

In these live our abundance. Our treasure. Our elusive — enough.

13 Responses to “Please Pass the Enough. Hold the Gravy.”

  1. Kay Hosler Says:


    Sent from my iPad

  2. Margene MURDOCK Says:

    What a great tribute! It was especially beautiful to me, since I just closed up My home of 50plus years just 2 years ago. I lost the love of my life 4 years ago, he treated me like a queen, and we loved Each other so much….. UNtil he got sick, I had never realized that in our 50 years of marriage, I had Never put a new roll of toilet paper on the ring…. always enjoy watching you on TV, and enjoy reading your essays…..thank You, Margene C Murdock, HOnea Path, SC

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Vivian Tabares Says:

    Michael,, I believe this batch of words that you have spilt out on the page have meant more to me and made more sense than anything I have ever read. I too ,am in this process and soon my children will be in this process and you have simplified it with just a few words spilt out on a page. I Thank you, Michael I appreciate it.

  4. Heidi Woody Says:

    Beautifully said Michael.  I want to print and save this, but….I won’t (haha, in keeping with your point). You’ve inspired me to move forward with my plans to purge and clear out a bunch of stuff, that is only special to me.  I have become so aware of, and you’ve reinforced, the fact that it’s better to handle all of this stuff, before the kids have to. Thank you for sharing. I wish you many happy memories, Heidi  Heidi

  5. The Smallest One Says:

    Reading your words reminds me of picking my way over a beautiful mountain creek–delighting in stepping across the gently rounded and time-worn rocks as the water flows through them in a patternless, zig-zag step dance. I move through your ideas just like this, savoring the tiny, powerful images that your words provoke. I have been there, where you are now, when my lovely grandmother died; however, It took me one long year to let go and find her inside of me. I am praying for your beautiful mother and for you.

  6. I recently moved into the townhouse next to your mom’s. I wish I could have met her, I’ve heard and can see everyone loves her here in Kyfields. I’m an only child & still have pictures, etc and just not ready to let go of everything. I’ve emptied the family home in CA, had an alcoholic father. so your writings have hit home. When I saw your car at your mom’s home recently, I felt sad knowing you were going thru years of memories. God Bless you for your wonderful sharing….

    • Jan, welcome to Kyfields!! It’s a beautiful place, made so by the heart. The neighbors are true greatness. My mom loves and misses them so much!!! You would have loved her!! But you’ll feel her presence. Sue, Sylvia and Carolyn will keep her there. Blessings to you!!!

  7. Greg McKinney Says:

    I love your stories. They draw me in and let me visualize everything. Thanks for sharing.

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