Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Me and Maxine went over to Dad's house to go through his things. We were quite the pair ... Maxine is a pack-rat who doted on Dad so much that she saw him almost every day of her life. I am a cold-blooded Manhattan bastard whose apartment is so small that possessions are not my friends. And lately, I've gotten even worse. I remember one year Enya was nominated for an Oscar for the song "Only Time," and the camera cut to her face as she didn't win. I swear, she looked so angry I thought she was going to transform herself into a wintry wind to cut through the light blouses of the audience members. That's the way I've blown through my own life from time to time. Just last year alone I did two major de-clutterings of my apartment. I threw away clothes, old records, my VCRs, even books, precious books, some that I had never read but always thought I would some day. So, looking through the boxes and boxes of stuff that Dad had accumulated through his nine-plus decades of life, I didn't know what I could save.

But, still, I wanted something of his, you know?

We'll go back again soon and go through more boxes. But for now, I kept this hat. It was technically his. I gave it to him one year for Christmas or Father's Day or his birthday. I always wanted him to display a little color, rather than the blues and greys that formed most of his uniform. This hat is green ... a splash of color, Dad! I held it in my hand and saw that the tags were still on it. That's the way he was. You couldn't really shop for him any more, because he had no desires left. I bought him books that he never read, games that he refused to play. Maxine and I bought him an expensive motorized wheelchair one year, and he rode it once and then said that he was afraid he was going to accidentally ride down the stairs on it. It sits in the garage now. I bought him some ties one year and he asked me to move some furniture around so that I could see the dozens of ties he already had hanging there. He had enough ties! I guess. It turned into a game with me. I spent less and less time shopping for him because I knew that whatever I bought would stay in its box forever. On his birthday this past December, four days before he died, I literally walked across the street from my office and bought him a cardigan at Uniqlo. That was my personal best, time-wise.

I get afraid sometimes that I'll lose my mobility and then just sit in my wheelchair and watch television like he did. I know on some level that I'll never do that. I'll always be working on some doomed writing project that will never see the light of day. I'll always do my little yoga tapes to salvage the little flexibility I have left. Maybe in years to come I'll pick up some time-consuming hobby, like sewing or painting. Maybe I'll accidentally stab myself with the needles, causing a fatal blood infection, or accidentally cause myself brain damage by forgetting to close the paints and inhaling the fumes all night. Things like that happen to old people, you know. Old people have the worst luck.