Something to be Thankful For

If you are a typical family, your day may start out with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which you will sort of watch.  Sometime during the day you will sit down to the feast.  The adults will be seated around the grown up table and the younger crowd will be at the kids’ table where I can guarantee there will be mischief afoot.  The feast will consist of turkey, potatoes, stuffing and gravy.  You might have some squash or maybe yams and you will probably  have a salad or a dessert that are family traditions passed down from your own parents.  You will share stories, eat too much (it is a requirement), and then you will either watch football or complain about football.  If it is your team playing, you might be doing both.  Somewhere, in the course of the day, you will find a way to list the things you are thankful for or at least you will try.

In America we are generally blessed with a reasonably comfortable life.  We are after all, the land of opportunity.  The problem is that too many of us will still be looking for more.  We will look to compare ourselves to others, who in our perception, are better off than we are and ask why we can’t have that too.  If only we would look in the other direction and find those people who are in need, who aren’t enjoying the comfortable life, who actually have less.  If we did that, we would begin to realize how blessed we really are.  From that very different view point, we would realize all the things we can and should be thankful for.

“Give thanks”, that’s the line we hear over and over at this time of year.  I do believe that we need to give thanks but I challenge anyone still reading to actually take this time to give.  Find those people or organizations that are in need and give.  You can give money, that’s easy, or maybe clothing or food.  Maybe you can give time.  Time to help someone in need due to a financial condition or maybe unable to take care of the tasks they need done due to a handicap or old age.  Maybe it’s just reaching out to that person you have lost touch with or to someone who is alone and needs companionship even if it is just a brief visit.  But understand, you must give from your very best.  Not from the things you don’t want.  Make the gift count by making it meaningful.

Thanksgiving is the time to give thanks and enjoy time with your family and traditions.  But if you can rise to my challenge, you just may find out how much greater the season can truly be.  Not just for the person or persons you help but for your own soul.  Tis the season to be thankful and with a little sacrifice….maybe thanked as well.

At least that’s over

This Thanksgiving, along with all the things I am thankful for, I am very thankful that the elections are over.  No, I am not going to gloat or moan about the results.  I’m just thankful that they have come to an end.  The fact that they are over means all the threatening and misleading ads are done.  No longer will I be bombarded with messages of doom if I vote for the other candidate.  No longer will I be required to listen to promises no logical person could ever believe were possible to keep.

Campaigning is no longer about who a person is or what a person intends to do but rather about how wrong headed and dangerous their opponent is.  We are expected to assume that the person campaigning must believe in the exact opposite of everything we are asked to fear about the opponent.  Gone are the days of civility and dignity.  Without any compliance rules to follow and a boat load of money needed just to get your message out, civility and dignity have become passe.  Fear and exaggeration sell.

How refreshing it would be if a candidate simple spoke truthfully about who they were, what they believed in and what they HOPED to do instead of making promises they either couldn’t keep or never intended to keep.  How can I improve education, give universal no holds barred health care, fix our deteriorating infrastructure and do it all while I cut your taxes.  All of those items, while extremely important to us can not be paid for without dollars.  Why can’t we acknowledge that the benefits of an educated and healthy society improve life for everyone.  It should not be a question of do I have a child in the education system but rather that all children in the education system deserve a chance to learn and develop the skills, both social and intellectual, that all of our futures depend upon.

But fair taxation does not mean equal taxation.  Our graduated system has worked for years and is necessary if we are to accomplish even half the items on our wish lists.  The problem is, that promising to make sure we can pay for something, just doesn’t go well with our propensity to want our taxes cut.  Until we realize that the society we imagine needs the support of everyone in it, we can’t honestly expect it to ever exist.  This means that the dollars I pay for taxes, if based on my ability to pay, will in fact directly benefit me, if not today, in my future.  If it means I can drive on good roads across safe bridges, or know that I can see a quality doctor when I need to, without wondering if I can afford the service, then my taxes were well spent.  If paying my taxes means that children can be guaranteed a quality education whether it is my child or yours, then my dollars are well spent.  If it means that my taxes will provide the services for someone not as well off as me so that I can walk city streets knowing we have done what we can for the homeless and not that we have left even more fall through the cracks, then my dollars are well spent.

By now you are ready to accuse me of being at the very least a socialist and at the worst hopelessly idealistic.  But understand, I am still grounded.  Things may never be perfect but we should never settle for less than our best civic effort.  I just wish we could have candidates, who if they really believe what they say, would be honest about what it takes to accomplish these goals and then go about actually trying to accomplish them.

We can be a great society but only if we are willing to shoulder the responsibility, both fiscally and morally, that it requires.  But for now, fear and greed still sell.  I can only hope that as we move forward, it will actually be forward.  That we will move in a direction of increased civility.  We have a voice to be heard and that voice is our vote.

At least for now, the ad campaigns are over and I might just be able to stomach the commercial breaks in my favorite shows.  I will chalk this one up to it just had to be said.

Thanks for reading.

To the Moon and Back

Just recently Katherine Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday.  If you are unaware, as too many are, who Katherine Johnson is, Google her and take the time to meet the woman behind the math that allowed American astronauts to reach space and eventually the moon.  Her’s is a story of perseverance in the face of both gender and race discrimination that eventually and fortunately brought her to a position of importance and respect.  She served as “the human calculator” for NASA in its early days of space travel and also served as an inspiration for black and female mathematicians of that era.

As a math teacher, I preached, to anyone who would listen, about the strengths and merits of young girls ability to grasp and apply math concepts.  Back then, I had been instrumental in developing a math curriculum for both enriching and accelerating the placement of 6th and 7th grade students.  It was immediately apparent that there was a large disparity between girls and boys in the placement.  Boys easily outnumbered the girls in having success in mathematics recognized by their teachers.  It was my opinion then and still is that if anything, we should be having a higher number of girls succeeding at math.  Math is the study of concepts that become apparent when numeric relationships are recognized.

Sorry guys, but women are far more relational in their reasoning than we are.  They also tend to be more visual and this is a valuable trait when a math student is trying to see the relationships behind the concepts that govern math.  That said, there should have been more girls being recommended and placed in those accelerated classes.  It became my quest to find them and to determine why they were not showing up in the first place.

Here comes my disclaimer.  I am not a formal researcher but rather an observer.  When I do need to research an issue, thank god for Google.  Still, even though I had no formal research to back me up, I firmly believed I could point at several reasons why girls were being overlooked.

I will tackle the easy one first as it is the most obvious and the easiest to fix.  Boys by nature are more aggressive than girls and will volunteer to answer a question even when they don’t have the answer.  They also tend to be the one with too much energy and to avoid that energy going south, teachers will tend to draw them into the conversation to help control their behavior.  Score two for the boys in the categories of recognition and involvement.  We need to bring girls into the class conversation evenly.

Next up is teaching style.  This area is much improved but also too often maligned by those on the outside.  Math and arithmetic are two different animals.  Math is a study while arithmetic is a skill.  For way too long, math in the first six to eight grades was approached as arithmetic and devoid of concept development.  It was taught from a left brain approach of rules and memorization.  I will not go into systematic details and differences, but concepts are more complex and require more variety in teaching style.  Not least of these variances is realizing that many children are more inclined to be right brain thinkers than left brain.  The left brain is more rote memorization and rule oriented while the right brain is more visual and concept oriented.  Early on I had observed that the students being recommended for accelerated placement in math were almost always involved in music classes.  No surprise that music and creativity reside in the right brain.  The girls that were being recommended for acceleration were also in those music classes.  Epiphany, if girls were by nature more visual than males, was it possible that left brain teaching techniques were leaving them a step behind to start the race.  Good news, as I stated earlier, this difference in teaching style is now widely understood and implemented by educators everywhere.  Score one for the girls getting an equal chance.

Finally the difficult one, culture.  We still don’t fully recognize the importance of the role mothers play in their daughter’s math success.  Though more documented in today’s culture, back when I was teaching if I asked a parent who helped with math homework, the answer was all too often dad.  The  mother’s response was often, “I tell them to ask their dad because I was never good at this.”  So there it was, that daughter who looked at her mother as a successful role model was left with the take away that math was seemingly not important to success but likely too hard anyway.

I will always point to and thank strong women who prove time and time again that they can “do the math” and stand as role models for every young women looking to be just as successful as every young man out there.  Mothers, please don’t send your daughter to dad every time she has a math question.  Own your role and possibly your daughter’s future success.

Happy birthday Katherine Johnson and thank you for never doubting yourself and always fighting for your place in the world.  Thanks to you, our world stretches at least to the moon and back.


Delta Chi….. fraternities aren’t all bad ideas.


Still kicking after all these years

It’s been a too long time since those lazy hazy days of college, emphasis on hazy.  You know, when the first 60 degree day meant everyone cut classes and met at South Park.  For me some 45 years have passed.  I guess I need to bring my potential readers up to date.  I pledged Delta Chi in the fall of 1970 and graduated from the Big O in December of 1973.  My degree was in teaching and I accepted a position in Loyal, Wisconsin.  If you know where that is, my question would be why?  I met Jean Warnke (Alpha Phi) in my Senior year and we were married in April of 1974.  Too young, too soon?  Our marriage ended in 1976.  Our divorce proceedings centered on the division of our only two assets, a 1974 Pinto station wagon and the wedding pictures.  She got the Pinto and I got the pictures.  Any advice on what you do with those?  I moved to Madison, Wisconsin where I took a teaching position in the suburb of Oregon.  In that teaching position, I met and later married Deb Shepherd in 1980.  In the ensuing years we raised two beautiful daughters, Bailey (1984) and Kathryn (1991).  Our teaching careers, Deb taught at Lomira and DeForest, lasted until 2011 for Deb, shout out to Scott Walker, and 1998 for me.  I had developed a tax planning business and sold that to a Madison firm in 1998, retired from teaching and took a position with that purchasing company.  I obtained my investment licenses and worked with my clients as their financial advisor as well as acting as the financial manager for the firm.  In August of 2017, hearing Garrison Keillor retire after declaring “44 years is long enough to work at anything”, I left my planning career and am now enjoying retirement, traveling with Deb, volunteering for a national org and helping to spoil my two grandchildren, Jackson (2014) and Adela (2017).  For entertainment, I write entries in a blog called “Kenisms”, my daughter’s idea, and can be followed at   That is, if you feel the urge to do that sort of thing.  My topics range from humorous recollections to travel stories and epiphanies.  Yes, I said epiphanies, as in life’s little ironies and aha moments.

There needs to be a point to this dialog so here it is.  This writing was inspired by the question “what has Delta Chi meant to your life journey or something like that.”  In pledge class, we were taught that each of the three legs of the Delta stood for a principal.  I remember that one was “service” and while thanks to my college night life, I have a vague recollection of the other two.  I will go with “brotherhood”, i.e. socializing, and apparently “fortitude” as it took that to survive the Delta Chi socializing.  I remember shoveling sand, tons of it, into the basement of the Delta Chi house on Scott Street as a pledge.  This was done as preparation for one of the many theme parties that were thrown in its sacred confines.  If you are thinking of some resemblance to “Animal House”, I have always been convinced that one of the writers had to be a brother.  That or John Belushi must have crashed one of our parties.  Did I mention that we actually had a house monkey when I resided there, or is that still a well-kept secret?  If so, Oops.

I spent a year and a half in the house on Scott Street, sharing a room with a view on the third floor with my roommate, Nick Yarmac.  I remember fondly a weekend road trip to visit his home in, wait for it, Connecticut.  That, like so many other decisions, was made late on a Thursday night drinking $1 buckets at “Toschs” and then leaving that Friday afternoon for Connecticut.  I mention this, because it speaks to the brotherhood and fortitude principal.  When an opportunity cropped up and you had a chance to share the adventure, you seized it.  You didn’t question the sanity of it, you might have given some thought to the risk but when a brother called and an adventure was offered, you jumped on the idea.  That has had a great deal to do with my success in both of my careers, first in public education and then in financial planning.  That willingness to take a risk, that ability to network with people and that desire to experience life as an adventure are all rooted in my Delta Chi experience.  I have passed that attitude on to my daughters and am working on nurturing it in my grandchildren.  I taught it to my seventh grade math students and my financial clients.  It is the only way to approach life if you are intent on not letting it pass you by and just becoming another cog in the wheel.

But I cannot forget “service”.  That principal guided everything I did for my students and my clients and still drives me as a SCORE volunteer.  Ironically, my favorite job in college was bartending with Tom Fricke at Dino’s Titan Tap in Oshkosh where I “served” up beer to our patrons.  That establishment more or less became the offsite fraternity house.  Hey, service takes on many forms.  That principal resonated with me and I have dedicated my life to it.  It actually served me well.  There is truth in the adage that the more you give the more you get.

Delta Chi in the 70’s was the entity that got me through college.  It was a brother to lean on when you needed one, it was the built in social network that gave you a group of friends to look out for you on a too much night out and it was a resource for academic advice when needed.  Who can forget the “test bank” or is that another well-kept secret?

I will offer a shout out to some brothers I remember fondly but also through a disclaimer in here, that if your name doesn’t appear it doesn’t mean you were any less memorable, but I am told I am limited to “characters” in this article.  To Tom Knoll, my big brother, where are you now.  You taught me to drink scotch out of necessity and it remains to this day as my favored drink.  To Mike Daly, my little brother, did you inherit any of my beliefs?  If so, I want to offer a late apology.  To Dave Koch, Bruce Whitehead, Jon Wolfgram, the Tiles brothers, Ed and Wally, Buddy Bannow and Chris Crager, my drinking buddies and cohorts in fraternity hijinks, you still out there?  To Plank, Roskom and Sonlietner, my attempt to drag my former high school classmates into the depths of depravity, how goes it?  And as I write this, to the multitude of other brothers that keep popping into my brain, thanks for the memories.

In conclusion, if for no other reason than this has to end, we are all older and supposedly wiser.  We have neared the end of or already retired from our careers.  We have likely raised a family and from the Facebook pictures, are now spoiling grandchildren.  Through all those years, still brothers, yes you too Kimbal.  Delta Chi was an underlying reason we made it.  Maybe the networking.  Maybe the dedication to service.  Maybe just the brotherhood in the adventure at its beginnings and friends to the end of the journey of life.  It has been and continues to be fraternal.

Ken Wundrow

Delta Chi Alum class of 1970

Grandkids selfie

What’s the Greatest Thing about being a Grandpa?

We are given children and we become parents.  We nurture them.  We support their every need.  We watch them grow, gritting our teeth through the tough times, loving them even when they tell you they want new parents.  We hold our breath as they take their first steps and then again when they take their big steps….. first day of school, first date, first job.  And then, just about the time you are ready to be put out to the parenthood pasture, they make you a grandpa.

You get to start all over, maybe even fix a few of your mistakes.  You once again get to feel a tiny hand in yours just like you felt so long ago.  You get to see the wonder and awe of every new thing through their innocent eyes.  You get to watch the progress of life all over again, and somehow, as different as it is, it is somehow so strangely the same.

This time around, you get to be the spoiler when you want to.  You get to call everything an adventure and declare every day a McDonald’s day.  After all, why shouldn’t each day have  a happy meal.  You get to be the historian, reliving the past with stories and recreating it with activities.  You might even get to rebuild the clubhouse their mom played in as a little girl.  Oh it’s a bit bigger this time around and even a tad fancier, but that’s just what grandpas do.  And when they climb up into their clubhouse, the smile on their face makes all the aches and pains of a now much older carpenter, go magically away.

Original Clubhouse

1989 Original Clubhouse


2018 New Clubhouse

But what’s the greatest thing about being a grandpa.  Simply put…..everything.  They say life begins again after forty or whatever age you pick, but I say life begins again with the birth of each new grandchild.   It’s life’s sequel playing out before your very eyes and once again you are given a supporting role.

Glad to be Opa and pleased with the gift of a second go round.

Happy New Year

Good bye to 2017 and welcome to a new year.  This new year can be what ever you make it.  There maybe obstacles that you will need to overcome but there will be opportunities as well.  Make a resolution to seize the opportunities and to put obstacles behind you.  I have a dear friend who preaches to me on the power of positive thinking and she has made me a convert.  I would encourage you to approach each new day with a positive attitude and let the day open its arms to welcome you.  The opportunities will await you.

May your new year be one of hope and success and may you be a part of spreading that to everyone you touch.

Happy New Year

“God Bless us Everyone”

Christmas is a time of year during which we think about traditions.  It could be a Christmas movie favorite.  It could be a particular meal.  It could be the procedure around getting the Christmas tree as I described our family version of tree cutting in “Can we at least drive it around the block?”  So what makes these traditions so important?

As we age, we remember certain traditions and we carry them with us.  But as in all things, they can’t always be accurately repeated.  Sometimes the reason is cultural.  Sometimes technology creates replacements.  Case in point.  Putting up outside lights was an arduous task especially in the northern climes, where if we weren’t on top of our game, we were putting them up in a foot of snow and flesh freezing cold.  I will admit to being guilty of this way too often.  With technology has come quite impressive displays and often without any lights at all.  But just for the sake of tradition, do you remember those big bulb lights with the multiple colors?  I do and I don’t remember them failing in multiple strings immediately after you finally got them up.  I currently have a beautiful half lit display myself.

The point is that traditions evolve as we age and attempt to pass them down to our children.  What matters is that the most important part of a tradition is not the memory that surrounds it, but the emotion it evokes.  The tradition can evolve over time.  The emotion it evokes is what endears.  That emotion is what we try to recreate.

In the family of my youth, my favorite tradition was watching “A Christmas Carol” on Christmas Eve with my dad and my siblings.  That tradition came into my own family but had evolved over time.  It began with setting up the video, something we couldn’t do when I was growing up, we had to wait for the live version to come on, and then making a big bowl of popcorn.  I and my daughters would settle into our big couch and watch the movie.  My two daughters would never make it through the whole movie with out falling asleep but they would always awake just in time to chime in with Tiny Tim shouting out, “God bless us everyone.”  As my children aged, the movie night was replaced with the family date night.  We would get dressed to the nines, go out to dinner somewhere fancy and then down to the Overture to see the play “A Christmas Carol”.  My daughters would literally recite the lines having seen the play year after year.  After the play came pictures, my wife’s tradition, and then a late night dessert.

The tradition was evolving but the emotion was intact through all of the changes.  It was family night together, bonding or maybe re-bonding, and feeling the spirit of the season through the closeness of family.  Two little girls falling asleep on daddy’s shoulders created the same emotion years later as two adult daughters still insisting on the same family togetherness in a grown up version of that movie night.  The movie was replaced by the play, the popcorn by dinner out and the innocence of two little girls by the grown up sophistication of two beautiful young women.

This Christmas, I hope that you will enjoy or maybe recreate a tradition from your past.  Don’t try to repeat the physical process, only work to tap into the emotion the original tradition evoked.  Let the emotion wrap itself around you and let it help you find the innocence and excitement of the Christmas season.

And so, in the innocence of Tiny Tim, “God Bless us Everyone.”

And from me and my family, Merry Christmas 2017.

Can we at least drive it around the block?

Christmas is a season of traditions.  Every family has them and we were no different.  In the family I grew up in, three brothers and two sisters, we would always have a live tree for Christmas.  The tradition for us involved my two sisters.  Each year, once we had secured the tree, it would be flocked.  For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it meant the tree would be sprayed with an icing of sort.  Now normally that would be snow colored.  Not in our family.  Each year my sisters would pick their current color of the year.  There may be some argument on this, but I actually remember a year when the tree was purple.  Dad must have really loved his daughters to support this tradition.  That or he had just given up and went with the flow or shall we say the flock.

Traditions evolve as families extend.  The Friday after Thanksgiving has always signaled the beginning of our Christmas traditions.  It is on that Friday that we head out as a family to bag the perfect Christmas tree.  Simple, right?  Our family consists of my wife, Deb, and my two daughters, Bailey and Kathryn.  Like my dad before me, I too love my daughters and for them it couldn’t just be a live tree, it had to be found and cut down as well.  Needless to say, when four people are trying to find the perfect tree, things can get messy.  After several years spent arguing and wrangling and yeah even tears over who got their way, and by the way, that wasn’t ever me, we decided to become dictatorial.  Now in  a perfect dictatorship, that would be dad gets to pick since he pays for and trims that tree with the lights.  You know, the lights that work perfectly until you get them on the tree, but that might be another story for another time.  After wrangling and arguing and yeah even more tears, we settled on a rotation.  Each year would be the next in line’s right to choose the tree, no arguments, no wrangling, just compliments for the magnificence of the tree chosen.  It worked, sort of, until we would get the tree on the car and head for home.  Then the arguments would still ensue but at least the deed was done.

In the year of this story, it had been my turn to choose the trophy tree for the cutting.  As the day approached, I was eager for my turn after my three year wait.  As my daughters implored me to come upstairs to get going for the tree hunt, I calmly asked them to come down to our lower level.  You see, we had four very large evergreens in our back yard and one had now grown too close to the other three and was starving for light and life.  I knew it had to come down and had on a previous inspection, noticed that the top of the tree was the perfect Christmas tree shape.  When the girls came down to join me, I announced that I had already chosen my tree.  Bailey and Kathryn looked suspiciously at me and asked where we would be going to get “my” tree?  As I pointed to the tree in the back yard, I was met with total disbelief and then my youngest declared, “You can’t do that, we have to drive somewhere.”  Bailey, the light coming into her eyes, spoke up, “Remember the rules, who ever’s turn it is gets to pick the tree.  No questions arguing.”

With that decided we headed out to the yard, saw in hand, to cut down the tree.  As my wife and the girls stood by watching, the tree came down and the top seven feet was cut off.  Proudly standing it up alongside of me, the tree was given the required compliments on it’s majestic qualities.  Ready to drag it inside, Bailey makes her request, “Can we at least put it on the car and drive it around the block so we can argue about it?”

I guess the arguing was part of the tradition all along, just as my dad giving into my sisters was part of that tradition.  Our family continues to extend and my daughters have their own homes.  One perfect tree has become three perfect trees and I suspect in not too many years, Jackson and Adela will be getting their trees too.  Its not just what the tradition is but how you preserve it and evolve it into your own family that counts.  So pick one and drive it around the block, if for no other reason do it for tradition sake.


Thankfully Thankful

Tomorrow our family will all be at our home for the Thanksgiving feast.  All the effort in cleaning and cooking may or may not be noticed but what will be noticed is that we have all placed another year behind us.  What will we be thankful for?   I know that there will be two new homes to celebrate and even more importantly, a new granddaughter.  Adela will be celebrating her first Thanksgiving and in honor of the occasion she has just begun to perfect her crawling.  In not too long she will stand and soon there after she will take her first cautious steps.  And suddenly the world will open up to her.

For the success of my family and the birth of our first granddaughter, I am truly thankful.  We will celebrate the day and remember the year.  But there is one more event that I will be celebrating.  After a 25 year career in teaching and a 19 year career as a financial planner, I chose to retire.  This Thanksgiving I will look back at lifetime of accomplishments and lasting relationships.  I am so incredibly thankful for all the people that have passed through my life as students, clients, co-workers and friends.  Each one left their mark on me and I have become the sum total of all those relationships.  It would be so easy for me to look back and take credit for all the assistance and advice I gave over the years but the truth is I received so much more than I ever gave.  That is the beautiful thing about life.  It is not so much what you do, but more so what you do with the opportunities life gives you through the lives of the people who intersect with yours.

I am now relishing retirement and am thankful that my career has led me to this place.  I have decided that I will spend my retirement finding ways to pay forward all the wisdom and experiences given to me by the multitude of people who have shared my journey.  For my family, my career, my friends and my life, I am thankfully thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Twenty years and one box

As I sit here looking over my office of the last twenty years, I see bookcases full of professional books and file cabinets full of years worth of files and lots of memorabilia filling the room.  And yet when I leave in four short days, I know that what I will take with me, will for the most part fit in a single box.  It is amazing how so much of one’s life can be boiled down to its essence.  When I leave for the last time, I will take with me a couple of these books and most of the memorabilia, but I will also take with me so much more that doesn’t need a box, the memories.

I have worked twenty years building these memories and over the past year I have revisited them countless times through the stories  shared with my clients as I slowly closed this chapter of my career.  What has left me grateful is the affirmation that I had touched so many lives along the way.  I have been with many of my clients for all of the twenty years in this office and for some, many years beyond that while I worked from home.  Through the years I have been privy to many of the events that shaped their lives, graduations, marriages, births and sadly deaths.  To know that I was invited into those events leaves me humbled.  To be thanked for helping my clients navigate their way through them leaves me honored.

It is strange that all of that history can be crammed into one box.  But it is only strange until one realizes it is the “why” we do what we do and not just the “what” we do.  When you look at it from that perspective, you realize that the “why” is what creates that sense of accomplishment and pride in what you did and those memories and emotions need no box to be taken home in.

So as I leave my office for the last time, I will take with me one box of stuff and a heart enriched by the memories of the lives I have been honored to be part of.