Infestation of Memories

This week, I spent a little time at Dad’s house, preparing for this weekend when my sisters are coming to town to start with the house.  Until now, I have pretended it wasn’t there.  Just a few miles away, full of Dad.  His bedroom still smells like him, and his voice is still on the answering machine.  He has touched just about everything I touch when I am there.  It makes me think of this poet I heard when I was young and a student of poetry.  He had a poem he wrote on grief.  He wrote it a year after his wife had died, when he unexpectedly came across a single strand of her hair.  He described how it surprised him, and how raw his grief was at the unexpected finding of it. 

Right now, I know that Dad’s house is full of Dad.  Thats pretty obvious.  As I kick into practical girl mode this week, knowing we have to start the process of going through the house, I pause from time to time and think about the poem about the hair.  You see, today?  The trash seems like trash.  The stuff seems like stuff.  But I can’t help but wonder how I will feel 5 or 10 years from now – when he seems much farther away.  Will I see a scrap of paper with his handwriting on it and feel moved?  Will I feel differently about it then, than I do now?  Already I can see scraps of his notes and tell which are before cancer, and which are after.  I attach some heightened significance to the clear lines in his pre-cancer writing.  But there are piles and piles of this writing. And there is a whole house full of his stuff.

He couldn’t take it with him, and we can’t take it all either.  This week I found termites, and the rats that have plagued his house are back.  So we treated for termites, cleaned out nests and set traps for rats, and now?  I guess I have to start on the emotional infestation next. 

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