Back in the Queen bedroom, I tackled the last two boxes under the window. They were full of papers that I deemed important at one time, but never got around to filing. Insurance policies that I no longer have, shred. Pay stubs from a company I left 5 years ago, shred. Bank statements from closed accounts, shred. This is easy.

Sympathy cards from my Dad’s passing five years ago. Those make my heart ache. Dad retired down south 20 or more years ago, and I know I didn’t visit him nearly as often as I should have. When we heard he had terminal cancer, No. 2 Sis and I decided to drive down to see him, even though I had just started my new job and had no vacation time. They were very understanding and gave me permission to take a week off.

So Sis and I took off on the 1000-plus mile drive, bucking residual winds from Hurricane Ike most of the way. Dad looked exactly the same as he always had; trim and energetic and full of life. We had fun retelling old stories, and taking walks, and cooking meals together. Then, I opened a kitchen cupboard and a jar of picante sauce jumped out and smashed on my big toe. I iced my foot, but the toe swelled up and bruised black and blue.

After that, no more walks. We settled in to watch a light comedy on TV. Sasquatch, Dad’s cat, was on my lap when he decided he didn’t like me anymore, and he raked his claws across my arm. ‘Squatch is polydactyl, so that’s a lot of claws. Dad was able to staunch the flow of blood and bandage me up.

The next day, Dad took me and Sis out on his pontoon boat. We stopped on a little island, walked (well, limped) around the beach and did a little swimming. When it came time to get back onto the boat, I found my wobbly knees couldn’t take such a big step up, so I reached my hand out to Dad and he grabbed it to try to pull me onto the boat. That’s when I realized he was losing strength because of the cancer, and with my 50-plus pound advantage over him, he was skittering toward me and I wasn’t any closer to boarding the boat. If I didn’t do something immediately, I was going to flip my sick father right over my head onto the beach! So I sacrificed myself, threw my body onto the deck, scraping my shins all to hell in the process.

Ah, good times. Good times.

I got both of those boxes cleaned out, and only kept the cards. That puts the bag count up to 37.

Stay tuned…

P.s. I felt bad for a long time about getting so hurt all through the visit with Dad, like I was subconsciously saying, “Look at me, look at me!” instead of focusing on Dad and being there for him. But as I was reminiscing tonight, I thought maybe it was all for the best. Dad certainly didn’t want to focus on his illness, and maybe the best gift I could have given him was the belly-laughs he had because I’d turned into all Three Stooges in one. I miss you Dad.