Thirty years…that’s a long time in the overall scheme of things. You move from one place to another; you pack up or have a mover pack up all of your belongings…box after box after box. By the time seven or eight years pass, the boxes are usually empty. Things are put away in their appropriate – sometimes inappropriate – place or places and you figure “whew,” won’t have to do that again. After we die, let the kids worry about all the crap we brought with us from a seventeen-room house to this eight-room paradise…and it’s all on one floor.
What we, like most people, I assume, forgot that the time might come when there would be a reason to remove and examine some of the accumulated detritus that we all manage to collect and store – “oh, isn’t that cute; I’ll put it away to look at some day” – where ever a place can be found.
The winter of 2015 has provided a reason to dig through the accumulated debris of our lives. All of the wallpaper in two rooms must be removed. To do that furniture must be moved. To move the furniture, some of it must be ‘emptied.’ You see, we have a large china closet that contains one hell of a lot more than china. It has drawers…and drawers…and drawers…and even some hidden drawers…and cubby holes. Since Juli doesn’t know what I wish to retain and what should be trashed, it is incumbent on yours truly to search the dregs for what will stay and what will be placed in a ‘children’s box’ – and here I thought they’d have to do it after I died…stupid, stupid me! In addition, there are things like bills and tax returns and medical information, and this, that, and the other thing dating back to 1986. That is what we today call trash, and it’s going to go!
Going through this massive mess of minutiae is also saddening. Seeing my late wife’s notes and budgets in her handwriting brings back the fact that she’s gone; her handwriting’s here but she’s not. I guess that unless you’ve lost someone you love, that concept may be foreign. When you have lost someone you love, even their handwriting can bring back the sorrow of loss.
This, however, is not meant to be a sad essay, but one that has a bit of humor. In my searching, I came across about a dozen copies of the following poem. “Why a dozen copies?” you ask (or not). Hell, damned if I know, but there they were. If you’ve heard it, you may not think it’s funny; if you haven’t, you may get a chuckle. The younger of you may not even understand the idea of sending a letter to a friend, particularly now that e-mail is passé and texting is the ‘in’ thing.
Here ‘N’ There
Just a line to say I’m living, that I’m not among the dead
Though I’m getting more forgetful and mixed up in the head.
I got used to my arthritis, to my dentures I’m resigned,
I can manage my bifocals, but oh God, I miss my mind.
For sometimes I can’t remember when I stand at the food of the stair,
If I must go up for something, or have just come down from there.
And before the fridge so often, my poor mind is filled with doubt;
Have I just put some food away or have I come to take it out?
And there’s the time when it is dark, with nightcap on my head,
I don’t know if I’m retiring, or just getting out of bed.
So if it’s my turn to write to you, there’s no need getting sore,
I may think that I have written, and don’t want to be a bore.
So, remember that I love you and wish that you were near,
But now it’s nearly mail time, so I must say goodbye dear.
There I stand beside the mailbox, with a face so very red.
Instead of mailing you my letter, I opened it instead.