Started cleaning out Dad’s office yesterday

And I found it a little hard to breathe. It has been all assholes and elbows here since his death. There was a bunch of stuff that was planned prior to his passing, and that still had to be attended to. Such as the removal of several trees around the property that were either dying or at risk of falling and hitting the house. Since we use wood heat in the winter, that means they left the trees where they fell and it was my job to try to clean it up. Three days of moving wood and downed limbs, and I’ve barely put a scratch on the piles. It’ll be an all-summer event.

Helping Mom with the administrative stuff that happens when a retired service member dies. There’s a lot of people you have to contact and inform of the passing. Pay stuff. He was getting disability on top of the retirement, and since his death was related to his disability Mom gets a portion of it. Social Security, and dear Lord how I hate dealing with government offices.

So I’ve been busy. Hell, I might have had one day off since I retired, because people need to be taken care of and things need to be accomplished, and I’m the able-bodied (somewhat) man of the house, and so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Until yesterday.

Dad had a lot of mementos from his service. Lots of stuff that had importance to him personally, but other than that has real little value. I have the same from my service. I daresay that all of you, if you’re of my age or older, have the same from whatever occupation you had, a lifetime of memories from a career that are dear to you, but memories only matter to the person who has them. And so I have bundles of things, stuff, odds and ends that Dad cared about that are not only impractical but have very little use in the world, and I’m finding it rather hard to dispose of them. Anything that can be used or reused will be, because my father didn’t raise a wasteful man. But things such as the embroidered insignia from his first tour in Viet Nam, that not only means little to me but that I can’t even relate to, is still hanging on the wall. All of his sailing books that I’ll never use, because I already have hobbies that suck up my time and cash. The challenge coins… I have my own collection, and it’s considered uncouth to keep challenge coins that weren’t given to you directly. Dad got those coins for the things that HE did, just as I received mine for my own actions.

I can’t keep it all. But I’m struggling to part with it. I already have lot of mementos of my father. His service pistol, a 1911 he purchased when he first reported to his unit and was issued a pistol that rattled when you held it. Back when I first held his pistol, he told me that he had asked for something that wouldn’t blow up in his hand, and the armorer informed him that he could buy his own if he wanted. So he did. Books about forestry, which I think I’ll find more and more useful as the years go on. Pictures and memories framed on the wall. I know that I can’t keep everything. But I feel like it’s going to be several months before I can pare it down.

I told my Mom that when everything was done and put away, I was going to walk out into the woods and have myself a good long cry. And I think that when I let go of the last of Dad’s stuff, that is when it will happen.


    • Evil Franklin on June 20, 2023 at 9:19 AM

    Dads’ and Moms’ are both hard to lose. Each for your own reasons. The memories will keep flooding in.
    Donating books to the Library or trading them at used book stores are a couple of options.
    Veterans organizations can help with the military memorabilia. Some of it may provide historical filler information about the units with which he served.
    Eventually many items will be dumped. That choice may be the hardest.

    I wish you fond memories as you proceed with the chore that you have undertaken.

    Evil Franklin

  1. Don’t forget to take pictures of what you give away/throw away. You might even want to make a short video of some of the memories you had, show the artifact close-up, and explain its significance to your Dad. Send copies to your kids, or just set up the files in a shared account on Google Drive (one of the truly useful parts of the app).

    • Joseph Roberts on June 20, 2023 at 8:55 PM

    First time visitor to your site here; the piece “They’ve Discarded All Pretense,” posted on westernrifleshooters led me here. I felt the need to offer empathy, and condolences, as someone who still wrestles with some of the same issues in regards to my late Dad’s things. My Dad passed in 2010, and in my experience, “getting rid of” Dad’s things doesn’t come easy. I know they are just physical things. But the old man was one of millions of guys who didn’t hesitate for a minute to sign up after Pearl Harbor was bombed.
    So, yeah. There are things that were Dad’s that I will work to find homes for after I am gone, I suppose. – Joe R.

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