The first time I heard a friend speak about living with intention, I had to ask her what she meant. She explained that she can recognize “intention” in others – at least in the moment she’s with them.
According to her, something as simple as smiling, holding a door, or offering a shopping cart are gestures that require a little thought and are ways of being intentional.
She intentionally stands up straight, watches her thoughts, and decides to be joyful.
When we’re children, we’re naturally full of joy. We don’t have to think about standing up straight or watching our thoughts. We’re curious. Heading out the door is a fun thing to do. Holding the door open for the kid behind us isn’t necessary. The sound of a screen door slamming is a good thing.
My family was recently gathered in our living room for a winter afternoon of doing nothing together. The adults were there to relax and talk. Maybe look at some books. A quick nap could happen. But the grandsons were there to have fun. Some indoor gymnastics and a little bit of wrestling was happening.
I’ve allowed my young grandchildren to disassemble the couch cushions and make a fort. Because our couch is a sectional with sixteen removable cushions and eight large pillows, they will always remember the forts they’d made at their grandparents’ home.
During our afternoon catch-up time, Deano was busy burning off some energy. We had to ask him to please listen. I got his attention after telling him the letters in the word “listen” could be rearranged to spell another word. He worked on the riddle and finally came up with “silent.”
Silence. Certainly it helps everyone.
My grandchildren know they sometimes say funny things, and I am always jotting down their words so I don’t forget them.
When it came time for my grandsons to say goodbye that day, they hugged me as grandchildren do. I told Deano to be good. He told me to be good.
As he was hopping into the car, he looked back at me. He had that grandson look. His eyes were smiling. I didn’t know he had one more thing to say to me before he closed his car door rather quickly.
Imagine my surprise as I heard him say, “Don’t write any dumb stories.”
I stood by the car in shock. What kind of advice is that? Grandpa and I started laughing. Deano continued to laugh. He was ready for the car to pull away but seemed pleased he’d made us laugh one more time.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt. In context, his words made perfect sense. He knew his grandmother was going back into the house to write. She would have some quiet time – he was telling her to write well. Certainly he had nothing but sweet intentions when he left me with those words.
After our goodbyes, I would be going back into the house where a black-and-white photo from my parents’ collection was waiting for me on my desk. It’s a picture of twelve men in work clothes. Looks like a scene from the 1930s. Six of the men have lunch pails in their hands. On the back of the photo is the word “Kimpel,” which makes me think each man had received his own copy.
The fifth gentleman from the left may be my dad’s father – Edward Kimpel. He has a hat on, but we can see his jaw line and slender face.
Grandpa lived in Hicksville, Ohio, and worked for the Work Projects Administration (WPA) which was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. It was part of his New Deal plan to lift the country out of the Great Depression.
The WPA provided jobs and income for millions of Americans. At its height in late 1938, more than 3.3 million Americans worked for the WPA.
The men who were employed built new schools, hospitals, airfields, and bridges. They laid miles of storm drains and sewer lines. They paved or repaired thousands of miles of roads and planted millions of trees.
Until I became a writer, I had not paid much attention to the word “memoir.” I knew it was a story about a particular time in a person’s life. According to the dictionary, it’s “a nonfiction narrative writing based on the author’s personal memories.”
Below the definition of memoir is the word “memoirist” – the author of a memoir.
My mother was a memoirist, but I doubt she was familiar with the word. I looked in her dictionary, and “memoirist” is not to be found.
Mom’s newspaper column was a place she could share the stories she’d written about those in the community. She wrote about the sad times people had encountered, but for the most part she focused on the good times.
This made me think about Deano’s comment. I decided we’re brilliant when we’re children. We’re supposed to focus on the good stuff which means fun is being scheduled into our day. We want our grandparents to crawl on the floor with us through magnificent living room forts with roofs made out of heavy quilts.
My Grandma Imm saved a stationery box full of letters she’d received in the early 1900s. The signatures at the bottom of the letters made me wonder what her friends and family looked like. Her family reunion photos aren’t labeled with the names of those who took time out for a snapshot. Certainly some of her aunts and uncles are in those pictures. I’ve read their names. Now I’d simply like to know who is who in the photo.
Publishing the picture of the twelve working men is my way of being intentional in my search for the story that belongs to the photo. Possibly there is a baby-boomer out there who owns this photo and can identify the men. An added bonus would be finding answers. What was going on that day? Who owned the camera? Was there a story in the local newspaper about these men?
If you know anything about the twelve men in this photo, please add contacting me to your to-do list. I will add it to my list of good stories to write.