On top of my dresser there is a crowded, dusty assortment of things I don't need. There's a plush puppy dog with a bright red heart on the front of its chest, and an annoying mass-market "Mother" tribute thing consisting of two glass panes hinged together and printed with clip-art roses and bad poetry. Somewhat more appealing are a popsicle-stick trinket box that James made for me for Mother's Day a couple of years ago, and a rock that Ruth painted to look like some sort of animal. There are also a couple of unnecessary objects which I suspect I may have acquired deliberately: a bottle with a curvy shape that appealed to me, and a plush Eeyore of which I am illogically possessive.
Perched among these oddly or dutifully treasured objects, there is an acrylic display stand holding a triangular chunk of flat rock with a western red lily painted on it. This is a "Volunteer of the Year" award from the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan.
Last night as I walked home from a potluck supper celebrating the confirmation of seven young church members, including Ruth, I found myself thinking about that award. It had never occurred to me that I might receive it. I had recently resigned as newsletter editor, and I was still worrying about the trouble my departure had caused. Startled to hear my name called at the annual conference, I accepted the award and managed a few remarks, mostly thanking my family for their patience while I worked on the newsletter, but also suggesting that I would help the new editor by contributing articles from time to time.
That was over a year ago, and I haven't contributed a single article since.
I mused about that as I walked home last night, wryly recalling how we used to talk about people who were very active in the Society and then, once they gave up their volunteer role, didn't even keep up their membership. I wondered if many are people like me, who will struggle valiantly to deliver what is asked of them, but once the pressure is off, turn their attention to other struggles, or finally begin to pay some attention to home and family and discover an overwhelming mess of neglected needs.
This morning, moving slowly and stiffly, pulling myself awake for a big day of garden planting, I stooped in front of my dresser and pulled out a drawer. The slight vibration must have been just enough to bring that acrylic display stand forward onto the curved front edge of the dresser. The "Volunteer of the Year" painted rock tipped, fell, hit me sharply on the back of my head, and landed in my underwear drawer.