A Cautionary Tale

My dad was a big proponent of “you can’t take it with you.” If you have any money, spend it or do good with it. Unfortunately, though, Dad never had much money to begin with. In fact, he didn’t have a large enough life insurance policy to pay for his funeral, much less his grave stone. My family and my stepsisters helped finish paying for the funeral. The bank will take his home soon, so my stepmom had a large yard sale to raise funds to pay for Dad’s grave stone. It was set up like an estate sale, where you could walk through the house and purchase items.

It was fucking awful.

My son and I went the second (and last) day of the sale, basically to say goodbye to my dad’s home, which had also been my grandparents home. When I walked into the living room, where he spent much of the last year of his life, sitting in his comfy chair watching Red Sox games and game shows and Western films, it was so void of life. There were items sitting on the carpet for sale, including his neck pillow he used to use.

Dad’s chair used to be in this corner, with family photos on the walls surrounding him.

When I entered this space, my son was behind me in the kitchen. I held a hand over my mouth and sobbed and gasped and tried not to make too much noise. I didn’t want him to know how upset this was making me. This is what was left of my father? His bedroom held his slippers and shoes for sale, as well as many of my stepmom’s things. Even in the bathroom, his last bottle of Old Spice had a 50 cent price tag on it.

I took Dad’s slippers and his Old Spice. I walked around the house holding them close to my chest. My son took his neck pillow and asked me to take photos of the house, even though it looked….empty, sad, depressing. Even the sale table of dvds sitting in the kitchen, dvds of old movies and tv shows I know my brother gave my dad. I took photos of it all.

I know this whole experience was bad for everyone involved, but I also know it was necessary. And I feel like it was the last lesson Dad needed to teach me, whether he realized it or not. I have always agreed with my father’s philosophy of spending your money while you have it, but I will not leave my family to sell their clothing and my perfume to purchase a grave stone for me. I will not have a funeral like Dad had, nor will I be buried in a cemetery. I hope whatever money I have left, my family cremates me or buries me in our backyard then has a party with lots of great food and music and friends and wine. Heck, I hope I have a home my son can sell or live in, but even if I don’t, he will not need to go into debt just to bury me.

Dad always wanted better for his children than for himself. I have hope that my child will have better experiences than myself, too. I hope that my son’s memories of his grandfather’s home will not be those empty, sad rooms I took photos of, but instead will be more about the people and the love and the living that took place there.

I miss you, Dad. So friggin’ much. And I know this is all just “stuff” and it doesn’t mean anything. But I really do like having your Old Spice in our bathroom. I get little whiffs of it every now and then and it makes me both happy and sad. And my boy loves your neck pillow. He says it smells just like your house always did.

We love you, Pop. Thinking of you every day. ❤

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