Cleaning house for the aged
“I’m going to clean out my closet,” I said.
G-Rob replied, “Is that a metaphor?”
After nearly eight years of friendship, this guy knows me way too well.
“Yeah, probably,” I said. “But I really am going to clean out my closet.”
In the south, we grow kudzu, not because we want to, but because we have no choice. Someone brought it here and now it’s going to grow regardless of our wants and whims. Same goes for my closet. It became my closet and now it is going to be messy.
I took three thrash bags with me and filled one with garbage before I reached the floor. I found bills for cell phones I haven’t owned in four years, flight coupons for trips I don’t remember taking, and a stack of business cards that I never actually carried for fear of being arrested. It all went in the bag. Other stuff sat to the side, like the monogrammed flask (hall full, no less) and the various and sundry items surrounding my career in television and media: three IFBs, two or three reporter notebooks, and countless press passes (including, but not limited to a badge granting me access to John Edwards in 2004, two or three presidential address Secret Service badges for both Bush and Clinton, and one I actually stole from the Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London, England).
I filled the second bag with clothes to give away. Five pairs of black dress shoes, two or three pairs of pants, a few shirts, and some giveaway items that I have collected over my years for working for a client.
Finally, I headed to some drawers where I keep underclothes and such. One drawer was so full that I could barely open it. There was a time, see, when I wore a white t-shirt nearly every day under my work clothes. Because of that and the fact that I hate doing laundry (the wife has taken over the duty in the house, only because it won’t get done unless she doesn’t), I had more than 20 white undershirts. I stacked five of the cleaner ones to the side and prepared to throw the rest away.
As I was about to throw one in the bag, I notice black Sharpie on the collar. I took a closer look and noticed my father’s name written in my mother’s hand. It was a shirt I’d somehow picked up when my dad was in the hospital and rehab center during and after his three brain surgeries. I rarely consider myself much of a man, but whatever maturity I have started forming around that time in 2003. I retrieved the shirt from the throwaway pile and tucked it back in the drawer.
Cleaning or no, we all need to keep some reminders.
(Upon re-reading the above, it sort of makes it sound like my Dad died. He will tell you that he’s doing just fine, thank you. He just should’ve died. Like three times. Instead, he’s playing the best golf of his life and not doing much else that could be considered work. All in all, not so bad for a guy in his 60s.)
I see Uncle Ted every couple of months. He speaks his mind. He’s like that.
He came over a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t in the door 30 seconds before he broke into a chorus of, “Gray, gray, gray, gray!”
I didn’t have to ask what he was talking about. I think I muttered something profane and shuffled away to look for my walker.
The aging man’s lament is so trite that I dare not repeat it this year. On my birthday last year, I talked about the choice I made. This year, I’m letting the day slide by with little fanfare. I decided to let this happen when I discovered, for the first time ever, I not only look a year older, I feel a year older.
This is not to say I mind. After I get through this awkward old man’s adolescence, I’m going to be well on my way to Distinguished. That should be a good time. Of course, if the books tell us anything, it’s a short road between being becoming distinguished and having someone feed you your soup. In that case, my wife and kid got me some fantastic German steel knives to mark the occasion that could probably put a quick end to it all.
If no marketing genius has come up with this yet, I think there is probably a great advertising campaign for knives aimed at seniors: “We’ll still be sharp when you’re not!”