It’s been nearly two years since my father passed away, but his office (adjacent to mine) has remained more or less the way he left it.  Only real work undertaken in there over the last twenty months has been the administration of his estate.  I used his desk for that effort and all sorts of statements, letters, appraisals, and other assorted documents have lain strewn atop it.

  Several weeks ago the notice came from Uncle Sam that everything seemed to be in order and I decided it was time to straighten things up.  I first looked through the old roll top desk (that was first my grandfather’s) behind his main work space.  Found two bank books from erstwhile institutions that didn’t make it through the thirties.   The last entry in the American Commercial and Savings Bank book was for a deposit of $883.36 on September 22, 1931.  I checked and that bank failed before the end of that year.  Hope Grandpa got his money out.

  Then I came across several of Dad’s report cards.  Grades 4,5, and 7.  Back then E was excellent, G very satisfactory, A average, F below average, and P “not sufficient for passing”.  Dad’s were all E and G in grade school, but dropped a bit in junior high.  I thought back to the horror that I found 7th grade to be and tried to picture him there.  I remember a few of his stories from grade school and all sorts of his exploits from high school on, but nothing in between.  Hmmm, I’ll have to ask my brother if he remembers anything.

  I decided to try to make space in a wide standing file cabinet just to the left.  I pulled the door of the second shelf out, up, and back and began to sort through the sheaves.  Estates.  My father’s parents and paternal grandparents.  Took me quite – way – aback.

  Dad’s passing, even though it was not sudden, left me feeling half exposed to the cosmos.  It was as if a hole in the ozone opened just over my head allowing a powerful new force to pour down upon me.  It was searing.  Sitting there behind Dad’s desk looking through generations of funeral bills I realized more fully than ever before that one day I’d find myself in that filing cabinet or one like it.

Chicago          March 3, 1914               
David D Mee & Co Undertakers:
1 Casket                $65
Embalming              $10.00
Auto Hearse             $13.50
4 6 passenger autos     $54.00
1 Auto Flowers          $ 9.00
Total                   $151.50

  After meditating upon this for quite some time, I was able to throw enough stuff away (old power bills, laundry statements etc with which even I have no problem dispensing) to find a place for a new estate file.  Dad’s.

  I pulled the file door closed and sat back in his chair and thought about all of the times I’d entered in search of his advice.  It was always better to seek it out than wait for it to arrive.  “Son…” he would begin.  Experience taught that I had to figure out some things for myself, but that for others Dad always had answers.  I asked him about an electrical problem the day before he died.

  I was awakened from this new sort of reverie by my own son who rolled in for some financial advice.  “Dad, would you co-sign on this lease and Fed Ex it out today?”  It was a bit after 4:00 PM.

  “Sure” I said listening to Dad chuckle in the background.

One Response to “”

  1. andrew Says:

    thanks for doing that for me!!!

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