My Escape´sledded down the old farm lane last Friday evening, arriving to the Original Jean's house just before the setting sun drifted below the frigid tree line. It was cold, not looking anything like the photo below; the only green to be found was on the shutters.
It's a grandiose homestead, but on the inside of those walls the conversations are sensible and simple.
Good or bad.
Wrong or right.
Black or white.
Grandma asked me if I wanted coffee and if so, one, two or three?
I replied I'd love a coffee, black, but just one.
That wasn't what she was asking.
This is the mug The Original Jean gave me to use. Suggestive??
The Original Jean went on to make a cup of coffee for me from her Keurig machine, then proceeded to use the same K-cup for two more cups of coffee.
Three mugs filled by the same K-cup.
I jumped up to advise when I saw her making the second cup without changing the cartridge; weeks shy of 84 years, she knew exactly what she was doing.
She was serious about getting every last use out of her resources, taking "good to the last drop" quite literally.
"No sense in wasting it," she said, sipping a cup of coffee that more closely resembled dirty Greens Fork River water.
Breakfast consisted of a frozen bagel from a bag that had been around a while. I'm 98% certain I was present when The Original purchased the same bag of bagels at Aldi in 1995. Remembering that I'm eating it in the name of science and my dear Jean, I continued to chew my bagel while requesting more spray-on butter. I don't know where my Momma learned to cook, but I'm certain she had to have married into that deal.
"You don't like it?" Grandma asked, noticing my jaw-full effort.
"No, it's good," I replied, completely guilty and feeling it.
"No it's not. But the bags almost gone and you're helping me clean out the deep freezer. Don't worry. Carry-out chicken for lunch," she was honest enough to make me laugh aloud.
In our home:
- Broccoli rubber bands were an intricate part of every science fair project we ever entered.
- Soap was never tossed; it was always paired with a larger bar to work for a few more showers.
- Rubber boots lasted far after they got their first crack, as plastic grocery bags served as liners for years.
- Trash bags were never on the grocery list; to this day, CVS bags and mineral sacks line the bins.
- Beef brains, tongue, heart and liver: all parts that provided iron in our young diets. My parents didn't waste any part of the animal we'd raised for food.
Good to the last drop, indeed.
She doesn't have to suffer through weak recycled K-cups numbers 2 and 3, yet she does in the name of being thrifty.
She doesn't have to start her day at 5:30 every morning, but she does in case anyone needs her.
She doesn't have to send Christmas letters to Granddad's old cattle friends scattered across the country, but she does because she knows that would please him.
I overheard a friend say once, "In reality, I guess we all live beyond our means."
I disagree with that statement.
There are still folks who clip coupons long after the farm has been paid off in full and the kids are through college.
Moving past the money, I do wonder how many of us live life with the "good to the last drop" mentality?
Jeans that repurpose when patched.
Milk cartons turned home for delinquent nails.
Soup that stretches.
Minutes that matter.
Hours that honor.
Days that deliver.
And years that build a life worth living.
Are you taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself?
Should you have gone with your heart, rather than your pocketbook?
I wonder if more times than not I live comfortably - with the stout coffee and New York strip - rather than the beef brains purpose that is requires I stretch beyond my comfort zone to grow into someone worth knowing.
This week I challenge you to find a resource - person, place or thing - you've wasted and find a way to make it good to the last drop.
Maybe a service project you need to invest more time into.
Maybe a pivotal email you have left lonely in the drafts folder.
Maybe that corner of the barn that collects nothing but the outcasts.
Maybe a person who could be so much more if you just gave them the time.
Maybe it's a simple as being creative in the kitchen and not throwing out that food on the brim of darkness.
Because let's face it:
If the Original Jean made an entire bag of bagels last 19 years, the least you can do is finish off the Super Bowl leftovers.