My sister is in town to deal with the disposition of our father’s possessions. We met today at his apartment and had a good talk. We’re not a close family, for whatever reasons, and she and I have pretty much gone our own ways in life, but this is a time when we pretty much focus on what we have in common, which is our father and and how his passing will affect us. I’ve been concerned for days that my father wouldn’t last long enough in the hospice for my sister to get here and have her chance to say goodbye, but thankfully, she was able to have her moment of closure as I did.
The possessions that were most precious to our father were his saxophones, and my sister’s had the wonderful idea of donating them to a charity program that helps provide music education to children who would otherwise be unable to get it. I think my father would have appreciated that very much indeed. It’s a fine legacy.
She’s also hoping to track down some tapes of my father’s radio days — which are hopefully salvageable from the clutter of his apartment — and donate them to an organization involved with preserving broadcasting history. Myron Bennett was an important name in the Cincinnati broadcasting and arts scene for over three decades, so his legacy should be preserved.
We also have to deal with the more mundane question of the disposition of his other belongings, and — to put it bluntly — who gets what. It feels wrong to be going through his stuff and taking it while he’s still breathing, even though for all intents and purposes he’s gone already. But we have to get his apartment cleared out within the next month, and this is when my sister’s in town, so we both agreed we should make those decisions now. And she’s the executor, so I guess she’d know. And at least it’s a way of keeping some of his stuff in the family. For myself, so far I’ve brought home his Marx Brothers DVD collection as well as The Muppet Movie and the Wallace & Gromit shorts, plus his copy of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (the book), which I’d been meaning to borrow anyway. I’ll probably bring home his DVD set of The Prisoner, his favorite show; I’ve been on the fence about whether it was important to me to have it, but it was important to him and I feel it should be kept. I’ve also appropriated a couple of more practical items, a paper shredder and a folding chair which I hope will be better than the old metal one I’ve been using. And I acquired his tiny MP3 player, though I’m not sure how well it works. I’ve been talking on this blog about how I’ve wanted a better MP3 player than the glitchy one included in my cell phone, but I’m not overjoyed to acquire this one under these circumstances. (And it sucks that I can’t call him up and ask him questions about how it works. It’ll take me a long time to get used to that absence.) I might bring home some other household items later. My sister’s taking some vintage Corningware and wooden candlesticks for nostalgia value, things we grew up with. I might want to pick out some things for sentimental value myself.
It’s already decided that I get the car; it’s been effectively my car for a couple of years already, and my father had been wanting me to take legal possession of it, and when he was in the hospital I decided I should get around to doing that soon, but I waited too long. And now it’ll have to be handled by his power-of-attorney. Hopefully we can get that sorted out soon.
One thing I’m not taking for myself is his huge high-definition flatscreen TV. It’s simply too big for my needs, and I gather those things are real electricity hogs, so it’d be an unwelcome addition to my electric bill (though his does have an EnergyStar logo, for whatever that’s worth). Besides, my sister had the marvelous idea of donating it to the retirement community where my father lived out the last…
Good grief, it’s only been eight months since he moved there. Oh, that’s sad. When he found the place and was finalizing the deal to move there, he was so enthusiastic about it, so pleased with it as a place to spend his waning years. But he waned so quickly after that. He was starting to get involved with the community and had tried putting together a set of sessions where people would get together and he’d guide them to listen to new kinds of music in new ways. He got really enthusiastic about that, and it was an extension of what he did in the local arts community for half of his life. But that barely got off the ground before his illness came on him. Well, at least he had a few final months in a place that made him comfortable. But it should’ve been much longer.
Just in case this has gotten too depressing, I should mention that, surprisingly enough, I’ve managed to have a very productive week on my novel. I’m not sure if it’s just because my looming deadline is forcing me to buckle down or if I’m embracing it as a distraction from what’s going on. But it feels like I’m finally picking up some momentum, and hopefully that will continue.