The other day I took on the task of weeding the flower garden area of the back yard. This is one of my least favorite lawn care jobs that are required to keep the yard looking good and I usually put it off for most of the summer.
As I weeded I came to a small area hidden behind one of our natural bushes. The area is not completely hidden, but to see it you kind of have to look beyond the bush between trees to find this little piece of my past.
There in the shaded light stands one of the gifts given to me in one of my last years that I worked with ASNIC. A smile came to my face as I remembered the story behind the VW van and the circumstances behind the little gesture.
Here is how I remember that I came to have this gift.
It was the end of the year, probably two years prior to my retirement. This time of the school calendar has always been one where our students were finishing up projects, cramming for tests and generally getting ready to escape college and head for their summer jobs. Over the past couple years ASNIC was made up of some real great students. One of them worked in our offices, worked in Student Events, was in student government, was an OARS Leader and practically had her fingers in everything that went on around our area. Her name was Fatima.
I remember sitting at my desk when Fatima ran into my office. Just like she always did, Fatima had a smile on but she was in a hurry. She gave me the VW bus and said that she was going to make it real artsy and cool but she ran out of time due to finals and the end of the year. She said something about her lack of artistic talent and handed me the bus.
The VW van was a toy that she had decorated with peace signs and cut out photos of all the students who had participated in ASNIC that year. Fatima expressed to me that, due to the time limitations she had cut out the faces and used tape to stick them to the van, but she really wanted to do more and glue them making them more permanent. What a great thought!
I love the whole thing and the idea of our group of students together in the VW. For the next few years the van was a fixture in my office.
When I retired I packed my office up and brought it home. I went through all the historic things and they all brought back great memories. Most of this history went into a box and is now hidden up in the attic of the garage. The VW was different. It not only was a cool little toy, but it held so many faces of so many great student friends that I couldn’t just pack it away. I walked it out to the back yard and place it next to a rock cairn that we built in our flower bed. Over the years, since retirement, when I come across photos of students that I met at NIC, instead of putting them in a box somewhere, I cut them out and put them into the van. It’s a memorial to the friends I met at NIC.
Now you have to realize that much like Fatima I am not artistic, so sometimes the photos that I cut up are a bit rough. Usually I cut the head off the person in the picture of sever a limb, but it is the thought that counts. I want to make it perfectly clear that I in no way do I look at this as a Voodoo related shrine.
I don’t cut off heads and stick pins in the pictures to cause them hardship. My cuts and rips are simply due to a lack of talent and that is it. You won’t find the bus being used to hold the tormented likenesses of students who made my life beyond interesting. You know what I mean? EXACTLY!
That day last week my yard work continued but the great thoughts of the VW van kept tugging at me. I shot some pictures and told Linda about how it made me smile. Again I want to thank Fatima for the gift and also thank all the students that have made my life so wonderful.