However, I couldn't think of any jazzier way to announce what I have spent the day doing. Yes, absolutely. Cleaning out my parents' desk. It's a lovely desk, mahogany, with a drop down writing surface,
and multiple cubbies as well as several small drawers in the top. And three drawers in the bottom. It has, for as long as I can remember, been the repository for the flotsam and jetsam of my parents' life. Once my mother died and bequeathed the flotsam and jetsam to me, I just kept it as it was, allowing it to grow a bit with my own stuff--dead cell phones and the like--shoved into the top drawer. But I've long known that one day I would have to deal with My Parents' Desk, and I've known as well that it would be difficult. None of us--my father, my mother, nor I--liked to throw things out. My mother was, in the early years, probably better at it than my dad and I. But once he died, she seemed to inherit all of his pack rat traits and then some. Thus, the Macy's receipts and Screen Actors' Guild cards from the 90s. Thus, it is left to me to make the hard decisions about what to toss.
That carton you see contains but one, the smallest, drawer and the top cubbies of the desk. It is, you will note, half full. What I threw most easily were my mother's bills and receipts, circa 1998. A twinge or two at tossing all of the Lee C. Gassner address labels, but none for the all the dessicated ballpoints, souvenirs of CPAs and insurance companies and, of course, now-defunct motel chains. I did experience some feelings of guilt at getting rid of stacks of perfectly good, albeit dreadfully dull greeting cards that my mothers gathered from somewhere or other. These are not of the Hallmark genre; think more along the lines of Birds of the World and Flowers of Fall. And with them went the handsful of perfectly good envelopes. It was hard to throw them as I know my father is flipping in his grave at the sheer wantonness of my waste. But if I did what my every instinct is telling me--put them in a box to keep and use some day--then they would become my flotsam and jetsam, and I have no daughter to will them to.
The Things I Did Not Throw (and yes, the allusion to The Things They Carried is intentional):
- the collection of perfectly good, not-been-cancelled stamps that my father maintained through the years. Not that he collected stamps, but for the actual postage, you know. I'm sure I'll use them. It would be a sin not to, a waste of perfectly good money. Of course, I do wonder if there's a statute of limitations on postage. I know we now have Forever Stamps, but will the 5cent Washingtons and the 3cent Liberty's fly as well?
- their passports, each in its own leather case, initial-stamped in gold--HG...LCG. I don't know why I'm keeping them. They just seem too good, too fresh to throw out. But still...
- medical reports, because that's now the only record my sister and I will have, and we may need it some day
- a letter from my first husband, to my parents, written after I left him, in which he told them how much he loved them--and me.