While hunting for the electrical aisle at Home Depot (where my husband Charles and my grandson Charles were making serious decisions and waiting on me to bring a buggy), I caught a glimpse of a man down on his knees counting what looked like boxes of screws. Taking inventory maybe? No, they do that by computer now, don’t they? That’s why every single item you buy has to be scanned, sometimes even if they’re all just alike. But that’s not the way it was done in 1960.

I was working at Brewer Drug Company in Clarkesville, Georgia, as a soda jerk/clerk/general flunky. It was January, time for taking inventory. We didn’t have to count every pill, but we had to count every bottle, every tube, every syringe, glove and bandaid box, every everything. Cabinets and display cases on both side walls reached from the floor to counter top and on up and up. We’d been counting about a week, I think, the day I was elected to count tiny bottles on a top shelf by standing on a counter.

I wasn’t bothered by heights. After all, only a few years before that I’d spent most of my time in trees, the higher the better. I looked out over the store intrigued by my bird’s eye view. Then I blinked my eyes and grabbed hold of the cabinet door to steady myself. The magazine display, tables and chairs, candy rack and even the lovely big mirror that reflected it all were tumbling together and a very odd feeling stirred in my stomach.

My first thought was of the horror and embarrassment if I were to fall. My next thought was to ignore the feeling and it would go away. I was very proud of my job (a job I’d earned simply because my mother was very good friends with the store’s owner, Mrs. Vertilee Brewer), and I was intent on doing everything right.

I reached high and began counting rows and rows of bottles.

Suddenly I felt myself being watched. I looked up at the open mezzanine but Mrs. Brewer wasn’t looking down on us as she sometimes did. Her little head was bent over the accounting books. Then I looked down. Not far away leaning on a glass-topped case stood Dr. Hardin, head pharmacist. He was obviously studying me. A flush heated my face. Was I not counting fast enough? Had I not returned bottles to the right places? And how could he see from way down there?

Dr. Hardin spoke more sharply than I’d ever heard him do before. It’s a wonder I didn’t fall right then and there. “Girl, you have mumps. I have no idea why you even came to work this morning. Get down from there this instant and go home. I’ll call you a taxi from the back. I’ve never had mumps and I don’t intend to have it now.” He was already dis-appearing into his pharmacists’ haven while I considered how to get down with any grace at all.

Everyone stood back as I grabbed my coat and slunk out to get in the taxi.

It was indeed mumps, an illness endured also by my younger sister and my older brother as my poor mother waited on all three of us. My neck swelled to alarming proportions. Eating was an awful chore. Even as sick as I was, though, I was worrying about whether or not I’d lost my job. Mamma knew I was really dreading bad news. She sat on the side of the bed as I opened a card from Mrs. Brewer. She and I both smiled when we saw it was a Get Well card. Mrs. Brewer had penned below the card’s message, “Come back to work when you’re all well. By the way, the inventory is finished.”

I really didn’t mind not counting any more bottles that year!

Now it’s the beginning of 2017 and, as I said, heartless computers are doing the counting day by day, sale by sale.  But there are personal inventories we need to take. For instance, I ask myself, have I grown in any way this year except my waistline? Have I been kinder or smarter or quicker at anything? Have I listened to God more intently and obeyed what I heard him say with more alacrity? Have I counted my blessings lately? Now there’s an inventory in which to revel.

I’m jotting down a few of my blessings:

What a blessing my family is to me–for instance, my husband with whom I delight in sharing a golden sunset, a newborn goat kid, and a laugh from the comics.

The gorgeous, intricately created camellia blossoms blooming in the “bleak midwinter” take my breath away.

Nippy cold weather and a crackly fire to warm by are some favorites.

Christmas cards from friends far and near are so sweet and treasured.

Having someone for whom to make a big pot of stew is a luxury.

Quilting parties, little girl tea parties, sudden after-school snack parties in my kitchen, gatherings with dear, sweet friends whom we trust with our humor and even our secrets–these are precious.

I’m fond of blank paper ready to be used, playing Words With Friends with my grandson (13) and being beaten, the feeling of completion after knitting a hat or scarf or setting jars of jelly on the shelf, the joy of a new book, the sound of children’s laughter, and finding some object that’s been lost a long time or just all day.

The Lord’s compassion as we travel a rough road is always a blessing too.

As I look back over what I listed, I’m struck by the number of blessings I mentioned that are not tangible. Aren’t those the best?

Time for you to start your list.

Have fun!


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