Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Last weekend my older brother and I went through our father's earthly possessions. He died four years ago, and since he lived in Phoenix but none of us three kids do, this was the first opportunity to pick through every box, pile and folder. As an aside: Waiting that long might not be for everyone, but it did make the task more administrative than anguishing.

The first hour or so was spent digging through his clothes, from overcoats to underwear, while making faces at Huxtable sweaters and cringing at jokey T-shirts. A two-inch-long mummified scorpion clung to the furry lining of an overcoat, tail raised permanently over its back; we paused to remove it and take pictures. Between swallows of beer, we wondered aloud whether we'd finally find his will, and then let out short, knowing laughs.

We were sifting through a box of office things -- scratch pads, a stapler, a grown-up Trapper Keeper -- when I spotted a file marked "To be entered on computer." When I opened it, the first thing I saw was a stack of recipe cards with my dad's writing on them. The design on the left-hand side was not new to me; these were the cards he'd pull out when we cooked together.

If my dad had ever gotten around to typing all those cards up, I would never have received my inheritance.

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