Spent Father’s Day weekend cleaning clutter stacked in the library. This may not seem a monumental task worth mentioning but I’ve been struggling to find a place to write in the house (away from distractions). After a year in mom’s house, I can now research, write and produce in the space that gives me the most inspiration (and the most air conditioning). The inspiration comes from the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of…well, old books, as well as the working history files of mother, daughter and even a grandmother.
While sorting through stacks of paper, I uncovered so many bits of memory shoved between old postcards and photos. Since it was Father’s Day weekend, I couldn’t help notice the pieces of ephemera that shed some light on the last year of my dad’s short life.
My dad was working towards a career as a draftsman in that last year. This explains his blueprint of our then-new house (pictured above). Before this job, he was a “jack of all trades, master of none” type as he rarely held the same job longer than a year. He was an encyclopedia salesman, a gas station attendant, a union representative, a taxi driver, a bartender, a five-and-dime story owner, a photographer and who knows what else. But towards the end, he seemed to settle and flourish in his job as draftsman.
Sent over 30 years ago, this condolence letter from my dad’s boss was hidden in a stack of other dad-documents of that time. I thumbed through my parents’ checking account book in hopes that their weekly spending habits would shed light on broader patterns of their shared life (it didn’t). I found certificates that acknowledged donors who gave to the school scholarship fund in honor of my recently-deceased father. But I kept coming back to this letter (pictured above) because it answered a big question for me — what did my dad actually do as a draftsman at Edwards Air Force Base?
While I’m grateful for this piece of the father-puzzle, the gratitude is quickly washed away by a wave of grief as I want so desperately to discuss this with my mom. Half the fun in uncovering these pieces to the family puzzle was always sharing them with her. So while I remember my dad on this Father’s Day, I also realize the road of grieving is long. I may have a turned a corner in dealing with my mom’s death (and even cleared away some of the ephemeral cobwebs in the library), but I still have a long way to go.
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