I couldn’t get the garage door open fast enough. There, on a table, was a flat box sitting in a puddle of water.
As Debra looked over my shoulder, time stood still as we both realized what was completely soaked inside the box. We couldn’t believe our eyes! My breath escaped my lungs like air does a popped balloon.
But wait a second: Let’s start at the beginning of this saga that caused me some sleepless nights.
A few weeks back, I posted on Facebook a drawing of coneflowers I did while Debra was in the hospital in Columbus having her knee replaced. A friend shared it and one of her friends liked it and contacted me with interest in purchasing it. I didn’t know the lady, but we made arrangements and I was to ship the unframed original to Connecticut.
I found a perfect box to put the drawing in along with some of those air-filled packing pockets to hold it securely in place. I sat it aside because the next day we were headed to Columbus for Debra’s post-op appointment. I told Debra where I put it and when I planned to ship it.
Since Debra is an organized and very tidy person, she wanted to make up the bed and straighten the house before we left. This is a ritual we must do before we leave just in case something happens to one of us while we’re away.
Debra gathered a bunch of boxes and other trash by the back door to be taken out. I was ready first so I decided to take them down.
“Is all of this trash?” I asked her while trying to get a grip on all of them. “Yes!” she yelled from another room.
Burdened with boxes of all shapes and sizes, I managed to clumsily make it to the trash can. Opening the dumpster, I began to throw away the boxes one at a time.
I decided to save one of the nicer ones for the possibly of shipping a cookbook or some of my other merchandise. I was going to put it in the garage, but instead I heard Debra calling me and opted to just leave it by the garage door.
I got Debra, her brace, walker, cane and medical paperwork into the car and began to back out of the driveway. I noticed the box but didn’t deal with it because we were running late. Besides, it was just an empty box.
The visit with Debra’s doctor went well and we decided to eat lunch and do some errands while in Columbus.
Later that afternoon, I received a text from our friend who was taking care of our dog Georgie. She indicated there was a box with what looked like a print in it that was soaking wet from an afternoon storm.
I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about, so I didn’t give it another thought until we returned home and I saw the garage door.
This saga gets only more convoluted from here. Standing in disbelief, we realized that the original drawing I had already sold to the lady in Connecticut was lying in a puddle of rainwater.
“How had it gotten here?” I asked myself, freaking out. Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me!
Debra had obviously forgotten it already was packed and put it with the other boxes while straightening up before our trip.
After a little initial screaming and gnashing of teeth, not a word was uttered that night at the Ballard home. All that was heard was the sound of a hair dryer being used in a salvage operation punctuated with more than a hint of anger.
Tossing and turning in bed that night, I re-lived all the events that lead to my original drawing being drowned by rain water.
If only ... I would have checked the boxes. If only ... Debra had not tidied up. If only ... I had actually put the box in the garbage can, the drawing would still be dry. If only ...
Life has a way of throwing curve balls at us when we least expect it. Sometimes we effortlessly catch them, while other times they slip right past us and simply nothing can be done.
At times like this, we want to blame someone but, in this case, who really was to blame? It was an accident, and no amount of anger or finger-pointing would bring back the drawing to its original state.
Try as I might, I couldn’t totally save the drawing. The lady who had purchased it decided she no longer wanted it. I couldn’t really blame her; she had seen it in its prime. However, she did offer to wait for me to create her a similar one.
In times like these, all we can do is take a deep breath and move on. Otherwise, we are just wasting time on something that cannot be changed. We all have options as to how we respond when confronted with the misfortunes life sends our way.
In my situation, I could have cried over a wet drawing or, as I chose to do, pick up my pencils and begin to draw.
Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him at instagram.com/markcreates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.