Lung cancer claimed my father almost four
years back. My husband, brother, sis-is-law
and I then faced the agonizing, raw
job: Empty out the house. This, quite the chore,
as he had seven thousand records, books
too numerous to count, woodcuts and prints
and lithographs that numbered high. What hints
would help us in this cleaning of the nooks
and rooms where all of it was stored? My job?
His study. His large desk stood in the middle,
with all the papers in its drawers a riddle
I’d solve. Then, shelves and shelves, a crowded mob
of books, newspapers, magazines and more.
Upon the windowsill each reference book
stood tall and at the ready for his look.
A cabinet, like mini-Staples store,
held every kind of paper, clip, or glue,
yes, staplers, rulers, paper punch and ink,
in duplicate, so organized I think
that Office Depot could have shopped there too.
His bookcases held all his published works,
set carefully in alphabetic line.
I stood before them, thought of all the time
he spent composing. Literacy lurks.
This was my thought as I sat down. He wrote
for hours here in this very room where now
I sit alone without my teacher. How
will I thank him for his instruction? Note
to self: Say thank you when you can. You may
not have the opportunity again.
I learned this from my mother way back when,
but needed practice so I could obey.