Monday, September 29, 2008


It's been an entire week of "lasts." last time to mulch the beds, last time to have a garage sale. And yesterday morning I told Chip we better eat up the last of what's in the pantry. When I went to make my lunch, what could I do but eat my own words? Although the pantry still holds tea, rice, cereal and some tiny jars of truffles, a lone can was waiting: Pace refried beans, FAT FREE. I spread it on corn tortillas with a little cheese. Not bad, really.

I've been procrastinating on another last: the very dregs of a whole office full of files and piles and keepsakes. It was a short pile among many, but this particular one, culled and handled at least four times, was too random and seemingly too hard to deal with when there were bathrooms to clean, stacks of junk to price, curtains to hang and gardens to mulch.

Today, I gritted my teeth and rifled through, sorting, deciding. I found my immunization records, which will go with us, or at least a copy. My college transcripts will wait for us in New Jersey in one of our two storage bins. A diary of my first trip out of the country goes in the New Jersey bin along with my first passport. A poem called Green Tennis Balls & Muddy Creek Water will go in my childhood scrapbook headed for my mom's in New Mexico. The poem was written by an almost forgotten classmate named John Parker, who obviously had a sense of humor and some time on his hands. It ends with "Oh, Tammy, come back, but this time bring some friends." I hope he's not still waiting. The poem was on top of a one-inch stack of my old writings from the last 15 years. I didn't have the energy or the guts to read through the pages -- be they masterpiece (SO unlikely) or trash (I'll take bets) -- so that's going to get pushed around until at least bedtime. zzzzzzzz.

There was a letter my grandmother wrote to me when she was 88, and I had just left the Southwest to live in the Outer Banks. It's a perfect distillation of her country charm and razor sharp wit in a chatty form of letter writing that now seems quaint. "Dear Tammy," she writes, "I haven't turned your picture to the wall yet" -- something she threatened to do if I moved to Europe. She hopes I've found a job and am enjoying "the colors" on the East Coast, as she referred to the leaves changing. She enjoyed the colors when she visited once but "was homesick ever night." She puts in a small report on the "folks" assuming they're o.k. because "I haven't heard otherwise." She gives a health update on her sister's dementia: "Sis is eating more and her head is better. She has gone to church the last two Sundays." I can't help but pronounce it "SUNdeez," as she would have done.

In an apology about her penmanship and spelling she offers: "If you can't read this let me know and I'll send you another one like it." Never one to ramble on, she ends the one-page letter with "Take care of yourself and come back home soon. (I mean to stay)," a failed campaign she continued through my final visit with her at 93.

I still haven't decided what to do with her letter -- or that nest still resting on my office windowsill.

Finally, the pile had nine pictures of my father when he was a teenager in the navy (he lied about his age to get in). I threw away four of the photos where he was too tiny to identify, put one in my scrapbook and the remaining three with his black-and-white, smiling face at the helm of the captain's boat will go with us on our own boat.

And that's the last bit of my very last pile.

--bought a light fixture for the back porch -- which doesn't fit
--bought a filter for the air conditioner intake -- which doesn't fit
--bought bins to store the photos to be stored at Chip's mom's. They fit!
--painted the stanchion bases
--fixed a leak in the water pump in the boat
--plowed through 13 years of taxes throwing away old receipts. Whew!

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