Monday, August 30, 2010

Things to Be Thrown Away – Jonathan Penner

Jonathan Penner - born 1941

My father has a huge basement. This basement has the square footage of the apartment that M and I live in now.

This basement is filled to about 99.35% of its capacity. It is FULL.

Tools, old board games, CDs, old framed pictures, books, kitchen appliances. Rolls of tape, scotch, collectable watches and general crap that he has found and collected over the past 40 years.

I say 40 because he has stuff down there from his college days – stuff that he has carted from his home town in Iowa to PA to VA back to PA to NJ and then back to PA.

Honestly, there really is a lot of stuff in this basement.

Now, what makes me write about his basement in relation to this story, is that I too must make a decision – sometime pretty soon I would imagine – concerning things to be thrown away from his basement.

I’ve written in the past about how he has already started to “give” me things. This process of “giving” is interesting.

He’ll state that if I see something, and I want it, ask him, and he’ll give it to me.

Well, on one of our last visits, I did just that, and the “giving” didn’t actually take place.

I asked him for something and he would look at it and ponder its signifiganice in his life and the say “…well…I don’t know…I’d like to hold on to this.”

He would then ask if I wanted 5 rolls of duct tape or an old rusty rake ( I took one roll of tape and politely refused the rake).

There is this unspoken knowledge that exists within the entire family where we realize that someone is going to have to take or to dispose of most of my fathers “stuff”.

Over the past several months, in preparation for the baby, I have done a fine job of clearing out the apartment of my life of “stuff”.

I can’t imagine nor would I want to bring into my life all of his stuff.

So, I too must consider what to keep and what to discard.

And, in this process, I must decide what to keep about my father and what I shall let slide down my memory hole.

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