So, the writing has come in quite short spurts of late. Between cleaning drain-tubes and cooking and running errands and ileostomy spills and homecare appointments and house-cleaning and staring at walls, there really isn’t much time write. But sometimes I get the moment to jot things down.
What I have been jotting lately are lessons I damn-well hope I’ve learned from this experience. So, that’s what I’ll be posting for a bit. I probably won’t try to be witty with these—it’s too tiring these days. They’re just going to be short, honest reactions to recent thoughts and realizations. Here goes:
When you turn 50, begin streamlining your possessions.
Because, you know what? You’re going to die. Or you’ll be otherwise incapacitated. And the last thing your kids will want to do is have to grieve (or nurse you) while sifting through your incomprehensible piles of shit.
Now, I’m not talking about your memory-stuff. That’s the shit that your kids will actually want to go through. That’s the stuff that heals, the memories, the nostalgia, the stuff that they may want to keep because it means something to them. But, for the love of all that is holy, no one I know needs fifty-three placemats. If you could cut it down to eight, that’s great. I’ll even take twelve, if four are named placemats with psychedelic turtles purchased from a Tulsa Stuckey’s in 1977. I’m okay with that.
For example, after spending some time working through the kitchen drawer that contained eighteen woven trivets, twenty-some-odd shaped birthday candles (including one that was a very dusty “30” [I am 43, my oldest nephew is 25, if that tells you something]), a quarter of the previously decried placemats, innumerable tourist matchbooks, an odd assortment of straws, instructions for an electric fondue pot, and some collectible spoons, I was sitting with my father in his office. He picked up this little stack of red plastic flat rectangular sticks. There were about twenty in the stack, bound with a rubber band. I had left them on his desk because I didn’t know what they were. I thought they were some kind of thing he might use to check his blood sugar.
“You know what these are?” he asked.
“You know those little snack packs of crackers with the little square of soft cheese?”
“These are those little plastic knives that come in those packets. You use these to scoop out the cheese and spread them on the cracker.”
“I saw these and thought, ‘I can do something with these.’”
“Oh, hell yeah. I got about five or six stacks like this around the house somewhere.”
Don’t make your kids try to figure out how important six stacks of plastic cheese knives are. They will be too busy with other more important things.
And stop hording food. Especially in boxes. It just means bugs. Lots and lots and lots of bugs. But that might be another post.