Ma Mildred, the woman who was like a grandmother to me, would boast that she had the cleanest trash on the block. She boiled chicken bones so as to remove the stench that might draw stray dogs and she wrapped them up before tossing them into her pristine, white plastic garbage pail, which had once been my diaper pail. Her trash sat in the hall way directly outside the back door to her home. “I don’t think the garbage men notice your well-kept trash, Granny,” I recall my mother mocking. “You don’t know if they do or not,” Ma Mildred chuckled in response. “It does matter that they don’t have to put my trash together to pick it up, Baby. It is ready,” Ma Mildred popped back to silence my mother.

As the country prepares itself to debate the next round of Oscar winners, as we eagerly watch playoff games in anticipation of the next Super Bowl champs, memories of Ma Mildred’s trash reminds me that we can be proud of the routines in our lives. We can take pride in cleaning our mirrors everyday after work; we can be proud of washing a daily load of laundry. We can all feel a since of accomplishment when we take seriously the importance of our obligations.

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