My dad died of cancer in January of 2003. He found out he was sick in September the previous year. DH and I got married on New Year’s Eve, and my dad hung on until one week after we returned from our honeymoon. I like to think he fought cancer long enough to see his daughter get married. In retrospect, seeing me get married is probably what killed him, since it was so unlikely to ever happen.
That was tacky to say.
Anyway, I have, of course, been thinking a lot about my dad lately. Going through all my mom’s stuff has meant digging through all sorts of papers and things that had to do with him. It’s almost a physical burden, because the emotions are still so strong. I’m not talking about the loss emotions, necessarily. It’s more like, we’ve had time to grieve, and we’re all past the anger-denial-acceptance crap. Now it’s time to honestly contemplate his life without the blurry vision of grief and loss. And, man, was he a jerk sometimes.
I found his wallet in my mom’s files. I know she went through it when she closed his estate, and I know she kept it because she felt like she should. I mean, a person’s wallet? How could you chuck that? I think she still has her dad’s wallet somewhere.
I’m not keeping it. It’s not something I want hanging around my neck. (Figuratively speaking, of course.) This house-clearing function at my mom’s is supposed to lift off the burdens of a ton of extra junk, and keeping my dad’s wallet is like keeping your appendix once you’ve had it removed. It’s interesting to look at, but then, for chrissakes, put it in the biohazard bin. What are you keeping it for?
There are some fascinating things in here, however. Here’s an Ohio fishing license from 2002. That would have been the last season he went fishing. He really liked to fish. I remember spending endless afternoons at Lake Berlin, down by the spillway or near the quiet side of the lake, while he fished for walleye. I caught my first fish with him when I was about 8. It was a rainbow trout, and I was very happy to catch it but didn’t mind throwing it back. It was small, and needed to hang out with the other fish for a while. I understood completely.
Here’s his ham radio license. My dad was really into ham radio when he was younger, and then picked it up again in earnest when he retired. He was KC8PHZ, and had his General license. This one would be good until 2010 if he was still around.
Lots of insurance identification cards. They’re all for the same car. I’m like him- I keep the old ones, and just stick the new one on top when the policy renews. This makes me want to go dig them all out and throw them away so my kids never find them.
Oooh- a safe combination. I have no idea what this is for, but I’m going to keep it in case I find a treasure map in some of his stuff later on.
My sister would be mortified- here is a picture of her, probably age 8ish, wearing her Brownie uniform. Now I’m going to dig through my stuff and find any pictures of myself wearing Brownie uniforms and burn them alongside my expired insurance cards.
A Golden Buckeye card, issued by the Ohio Department of Aging. I don’t know if I could carry one of these, except that they do get you some wicked good discounts. My mom used hers this morning and got free coffee plus a 5% discount on her breakfast at Friendly’s.
Another insurance card. Oh, good- at least this is for a different vehicle. It’s one they sold years and years ago, but, hey.
An AARP card. I guess I am really glad that my dad lived to be old enough to get one of these.
Here’s a grocery store card. I can’t believe there’s one of these in his wallet. My dad often went to the grocery store, but always with my mom. It’s just funny to see it in here for some reason.
Here’s his library card. I never saw my dad use this. We went to the library often when we were kids. In fact, my parents regularly took us to the Main library downtown. Back in the day, that was a cool place to go- before they remodeled it and vacuumed the shelves and stuff. The building is one of those neat turn-of-the-last-century things with stonework and carvings and whatnot. When I was young, it had cavernous stacks on several floors, and some of them weren’t even completely lit. You would be wandering through the fiction section and find yourself peering into some odd Lewis Carrollian shelves that were a half-floor lower, against walls a completely different shade than the last room’s, and under buzzing fluorescents that seemed to be saying something intelligible but you were pretty sure that it was you they were talking to. I loved going to that library. I felt like I was really in a book. But we always went out to the car with my dad while mom checked out the books, so I never saw him use his card.
Here’s a membership card to the local art museum. My dad loved museums. One of his favorite daytrips was to take us all up to Cleveland to visit the Natural History museum, or the art museum. Unfortunately, my strongest memory of museuming with my father is when I had one of my first periods, ever, and the cramps were so horrible that I could hardly stand up. And so, when we came into a room, I would find a place to sit down so I could still look at things but not be in so much pain. After a few benched exhibits, my dad grabbed me by the arm and made me stand up, telling me not to be such a baby and quit crying about something-that-was nothing. I should have kicked him in the nuts, but I was like twelve. Fortunately, I still like museums.
There are two little pieces of paper here with his handwriting on them. This one is a gate code for a storage area they rented for a while. He was putting some of his tools and things in there so the house would be cleared out before he died. This other one is a phone number written on the back of a business card. The card is from someone who makes hammered dulcimer music. I wonder if Judith Minogue is still doing that.
Here’s a hardware store receipt. I’m surprised there aren’t more receipts in here. My dad was always tucking receipts in to places. I found a bunch of them in his overcoat, which had been sitting in my husband’s closet until last fall when we decided to give it to my brother. Maybe that’s why there aren’t any in his wallet- they were all in the overcoat.
An admission ticket to the 2002 county fair. My dad was a huge fan of the fair. He served on its board for several years and we always went. I worked there several years in a row, helping to put up the exhibits in the education building. The fair always meant the end of summer. It was a really bittersweet time. The last day is always on Labor Day, and school started up the day after. I remember the weather always seemed to switch over from summer to fall right on Labor Day. The night would suddenly be cold, and we’d get to wear our new school jeans for the first time. It was exciting to get to wear new clothes, but the price was really high.
Everything else in here is ordinary. A warehouse club card, a drivers’ license. A VISA card. A department store card. Awesome- here’s his National Rifle Association card. I love that about my parents. My mom also belongs to the NRA. In fact, she joined before he did.
That’s it. It’s all empty. Now it’s just a plain old, used, wallet.
And it’s going in the trash.