How quickly we come to an end.
While I try not to focus too extensively on the inevitable realities of death, it is hard for me to overlook how quickly we vanish from thought once we pass. Our actions, experiences, memories, ambitions, are flipped off like a light switch. While acquaintances can certainly carry on with the reflections of our life for the years to follow, what happens when those individuals pass as well?
There is nothing more surreal than throwing away the possessions of a deceased loved one. Old books, magazines, tchotchkes, items once held in the hands of the living, now void of significance because the hands are no longer there.
My grandfather passed away a decade ago, and recently we have been acquiring possessions of his as my grandmother relocates to an assisted living facility. Many of the objects consist of old books about World War 2, which he had been an active service member, uniforms, dinning sets, cabinets, and photographs. While I had developed my own assumptions of who he was as a person simply from my visits with him as a child, riffling through his belongings has given me a better understanding of his character.
Blueprints of his house which he had built by hand, grocery store receipts he had used as bookmarks, letters from his past wife regarding his extramarital affairs, newspaper clippings about the unionization at his workplace. He was a hard-nosed, republican hating, womanizer, and abusive father; and here I was, throwing his possessions into boxes to be donated. I did not feel upset by this process, but rather it turned my attention toward my own sense of being. Scrap by scrap, his existence was disappearing.
What happens when the pages begin to crumble?
What happens when the photos begin to fade?
What happens when I too pass?
His life will be but whispers in the wind, a legacy forgotten, a name not remembered.
My mother, who aspired to be an artist as a child, was constantly belittled by her father regarding her dreams to make art. His most infamous line being, ‘what are you going to do with art? You might as well take up underwater basket weaving.’