Every so often you are in need of a heart specialist.
On the way home today I heard Peter Liddle from Dry the River on All Things Considered. It is rare I get enamored with new music. I am past the age and the inclination to concern myself with that sort of thing, but hearing the instrumentally minimalist and lyrical rich content of this band was exceptional stuff and I needed exceptional stuff, at least good exceptional stuff. The last couple of months have had a lot of the not so good exceptional stuff capped off with a big professional headache and the DoL application for Commensurate Wages, a bureaucratic nightmare that rules 2 weeks of my life every couple of years. (March is proving to be quite the month when it comes to work, but I think last year still has this year beat.) But driving down Peterson in sunny near 70 degree weather listening to a group of twenty somethings sing about those life experiences everyone has was exceptional stuff and in a good way. I loved the double entendre of “Songs of Cardiac Anatomy,” a former medical student singing of the affairs de couer, but it makes one wonder if there are ever any good stories in that department. Though if you are going to see a heart specialist, your heart can’t be in good shape and if you are going to listen to one on the radio, the same is true.I had to recently consult a heart specialist. Well he is not much of a specialist considering I am he. I have spent the last couple of days dealing with a morbid but necessary thing. ….what will happen with my things after there is no longer a me. The big stuff I know about….property appropriate to be passed on. But what of that property that is more personal in nature?
Underneath the bed in the spare room are two metal boxes. In these are photos, letters, cards, and things even more personal in nature. What of these? More specifically, is there anything in these boxes that should survive me? There is one letter from Vietnam that falls into the category, perhaps one more letter of love lost beautifully written….but even these will one day cease to exist. Should they cease to exist with me?
Actually the merit of keeping anything such as these is called into question by many. The other day I was on a website that said it is not appropriate to keep baby teeth or locks of hair let alone cards and letters. The site maintained this sort of thing is just too Victorian. I could not find myself in agreement. I am flattered that I have a baby book back at my parents’ home. In there are birth announcements, a lock from my first (and one of my last) haircuts, and my first dollar (a 1964 silver certificate.) I don’t think my parents ever look at these things and I certainly don’t, just as I do not make a habit of looking in those metal boxes. Still there is something nice to knowing they are there, especially in light of the fact that according to many there should be no me at all.
I come back to the dilemma of this very personal property. At my parents’ place there are the types of things that are in my metal boxes. I have always been most intrigued by a card sent to my father with lipstick pressed onto it. The lipstick is older than I am, though not by much and that also points to a story of courage that brought me to my creation. Just as my mother carried me against medical advice, there was also no reason on paper (other than that pinkish-red stain) that suggest my parents should be my parents at all. My father was much older than my mother and he lived in dangerous circumstance. Poverty was also at play here. It is all the more reason I cannot see that card disappearing, even when my parents are no longer with us. Still it is not my property, but my father’s and I would understand its destruction.
So what to do with my property? Should any of it be kept? Should it be burned with my body? Should a small part of it be passed on? These are the matters of legal wills. But they are also the matter soul searching. I will soon have to make a decision. I have said that when I die one of the first things I want done is the destruction of my hard drive. Reviewing nearly a thousand pages of journal has confirmed this. Perhaps the contents of my lock boxes will await the same fate. But I don’t know. There are reasons that some of what is in there have meaning to more than just me. Where is a heart specialist when you need one?