My father has recently died; and my mother died 10 years ago. So, my siblings and I are now engaged in the process of ‘going through’, ‘sorting out’ our parents’ belongings. I have trouble finding the right way to describe this activity, emotionally complex as it is, for we are now having to make decisions about things that have had significance in our parents’ and our past shared lives. It is a difficult and painful process, but one that brings with it moments too of lightness, surprise and joy. One way or another, this experience feels meaningful.
Just when we are feeling overwhelmed, and resorting to turning the process into ‘chores that have to be done’, we are called to attention: this can’t be hurried; the time the process takes need to be respected.
Here is an instance of this calling to attention. My father was an organised man, and had all his files and papers, for want of a better term, clearly classified. Thus there had been an initial temptation to simply assign a labelled box to x archive or whatever. We decided, however, to do a quick check of contents before such an action. And, in the process, we unexpectedly came across a document that gave us pause. It was a piece I’d written (and more or less forgotten) some15 years previously, when our parents were in the process of downsizing and moving to the house in which we were now sitting.
Here is that piece:
We have now taken that chair to an upholsterer to have it restored. One of us will take care of it.