Yesterday morning I was finally compelled to begin cleaning out dad’s office.
A year ago this would have been impossible, as that room reverberated with his passage through life. Every single item inside was something that he had touched and considered. I could feel his presence there. In that room he was still alive, so the door remained closed and the contents undisturbed.
I sometimes go to walk in the cemetery, and I always end those walks at his grave. I study the headstone and the flowers, and while I know his mortal remains lie below my feet I do not feel close to him in that place.
In Hamlet, Polonius’ final bit of advice to his son is “To thine own self be true”.
For me that advice has meant learning to see the world and the things and the people in it without self-deception and to keep the ones that will provide true happiness.
It had been more than six months since I had last ventured into dad’s office, and when I opened the door I could tell that things had changed. It was the same room, with the same smells and the same items, but I could finally separate the treasures from the trash.
The thing that had changed was me.