I’m fighting a paper war and I think I might be losing. My furniture is back in my office after replacing the water-damaged carpet with porcelain tile. I have returned some of the pared down files to my file cabinets, but I still have tubs galore to go through.
The goal is to spend at least an hour a day going through the boxes in the family room to decide what to throw away and what to keep. I’m trying to be heartless. When I see newsletters, articles, scrapbooks (mine and others), and books upon books I try to determine what is still important enough to keep. I don’t want to waste office space with projects that have been put on hold for ten years.
To complicate matters—my dumpster is full and has been for two weeks. It’s past time for the pickup, but they just keep putting me off, the weather, you know. Yes, I know, but tell it to the dumpster and the full trash bags waiting for a place to be stashed.
I try not to spend a lot of time on the paper war—just glance, toss, or file. I finally tackled Jim’s file. But, I couldn’t help but be sidetracked with the memories pressed within the pages. I kept everything in the bulging file—at least for now. I found his long lost original birth certificate. I could remember it had a few weird things on it. First off, his middle name was supposed to be Dee, not D. I know for certain that Jim wasn’t the first born of twins or triplets. And he had three older siblings, not two. I still didn’t find his brain autopsy report. I thought if I went through the file carefully, it would appear as mysteriously as the long-lost birth certificate.
My next stumbling block was Virginia’s file. My mother-in-law was my “other mother.” I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it was for her to watch Jim’s decline. Until her health failed, she looked after him. She cried when I told her I was going to hire caregivers so that she could take care of herself. I don’t know if she was relieved, or upset that I didn’t think she could watch after him.
Jim was getting to be a handful. He kept taking off down the road and Virginia would follow him in her car. She would call me on her “car phone” and keep track of him until I could come home from work. He just wouldn’t get in her car. Another time he took off all his clothes in the yard and she couldn’t get him to put them back on. I assured her that since he was in our yard on a country road that anyone driving by would just have to look the other way. By the time I made it home, she had him inside and dressed.
Other than my mother and sister, no one even came close to being as good with Jim as his mom was. Being Jim’s caregiver was a labor of love for her.
After Jim passed away, we had an informal service. Jim’s friend Gary was officiating and when I told him some stories for the services, he said he wanted me to tell them. I didn’t think that was appropriate, but both of my sons agreed with him.
After Jim’s services, Virginia told me that she wanted the same kind of service when she passed away. When Virginia was nearing the end of her life, I went to her house one day and asked her to tell me some stories.
In her file, I saw the document that I wrote for her services. I read through the pages and laughed at the memories of her younger days. By the time I reached the end, my tears were dripping onto the page.
My heart ached for the days when all the family gathered at Bill and Virginia’s to share a meal, play cards, or enjoy music in the yard. The laughter and love of those days are treasures firmly entrenched in my soul. Those who have left this earthly home are only a memory away.
Copyright © February 2021 by L.S. Fisher