In case you don’t know, Minimalism is a way of life advocated by two young men who at one point made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in the corporate world. They spent much more than they earned. As a retired teacher, I find it odd that sticking to a budget involving hundreds of thousands of dollars presented a problem, but it did. And in spite of all their money and possessions, they were desperately unhappy. They quit their jobs, chucked their overpriced stuff, and are now quite happily making a living by preaching their philosophy to anyone who will listen. I’m not spreading gossip or airing dirty laundry here. If you don’t believe me, check out the Minimalists website and read it for yourself.

Now that that’s out of the way, you might be wondering who Large Marge is and what she has to do with Minimalism. First of all, Marge is not a person. She’s a thing that popped up in my youngest daughter’s neck a week after she delivered her first baby. Marge started out the size of a walnut and grew exponentially over the next several weeks, hence the name. It hurt like heck, and Caitlin couldn’t turn her head or even hold it up without assistance. The Cliff Note version of the story is that after ten weeks of living with the ever-growing Marge and enduring way too many inconclusive medical procedures, Caitlin was finally scheduled for surgery. Estimating the operation as taking ninety minutes at the most, the surgeon reserved the OR for two hours “just in case.”

Seven hours later it was over. The wait in the surgical center, especially after the office staff “abandoned” us at the end of the day, is a whole other story. The surgeon called in two more doctors to assist, in addition to the one he started with, and wore out three scalpels sawing through Marge. None of the docs had a clue what Marge, coming out at 3.5″ wide and deep and 4″ long, actually was. One of them used the terms “classic cyst” and “dried-out shoe leather” to describe it to us. I bet he used more colorful language in the OR.

Caitlin went home the next morning, physically incapable of holding her baby, much less caring for her. Our son-in-law, an agricultural science teacher, was out of the picture as a nurse as all this had materialized at the beginning of stock show season, the three busiest months of his year. So my husband and I went home with her and served as nursemaid-servants for the next six weeks, going home every three or four days for a few minutes to pick up the mail and check on the dogs.

So what’s the connection? Just this–in some crazy way the Minimalist guys threw me a mental life preserver. One day–amazingly all at the same time–both daughter and granddaughter were sleeping, my husband had gone to the store, and the dishes were done and the laundry folded. Figuring I had no more than five precious minutes to myself, I decided to check my email. It’s a mystery how the Minimalist email came to my inbox, and it’s a bigger mystery why I didn’t just delete it. Instead, I read it, and that’s how my journey began.