Henry Miller writes about receiving a clock as a gift. He said he was not an accumulator. He saw stuff as “white elephants.” He took heart in having to accept a clock he didn’t want by surmising it wouldn’t be around long. He had a two-year old daughter in the house.
I sat in a room looking at all my stuff and thought about the weather. Right now it is protected from the snow and rain, but what will happen once we are dead? Will nephews or daughter want our stuff? What is precious to me is not necessarily appreciated by others in our family.
I recall my parents giving away things long before their deaths. At the time I felt a bit resentful, but I am sure they had accumulated much over the years that they thought neither my brother nor I would claim.
My brother and his wife did the final clearing of my parent’s home. Neither my wife or I participated. Why didn’t I? I compared my reluctance to when as a youth I didn’t take part in a pet dog going to the vet one final time.
How I wish all of them would return so that I could do last things differently. After ten years of chaplaincy I am more familiar with death. I also accompanied two wonderful dogs on their last trips to the vet. With experience I am more familiar with death’s abandoning nature.
When our time comes to contemplate the end, I hope someone more responsible than I will clean out our house. Meanwhile, I will look over my books and seek places to send the finest ones. My wife tells me not to worry. We left them all to a nephew who said he wants them. Still, if I do it now…. must be about control.
I call 2014 the year of the book. It is the year I plan to finish writing my first one. Perhaps it should also be the year I begin the task of selling the books I own. I want the room empty when I die. No white elephants. Just one Kindle Fire. Empty too.