Tonight I find myself thinking about anniversaries. Tomorrow will be one month since Dad died. From past experience, I know that there will be a year of firsts — the first Father’s Day without him, the first birthday (his) without him, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, etc. I’ve been so busy that it only occurred to me today that almost a month has passed.
That month has been so filled with things to do — the funeral, most obviously, but so many other things as well. Tracking down papers for legal matters — the living trust, the insurance papers, truck title, Blazer title, boat title. So far, I’ve found insurance policies and am still tracking one down, the one from the company he retired from in 1982. Of course, that company sold off the Exploration and Production division, which Dad was part of. That meant he is no longer in the original company’s database. I’ve contacted the one I think his retirement check has been coming from, but haven’t heard back since Monday, when I left a voice message. I suppose I have to call again tomorrow. We’re waiting for the insurance money left over after funeral costs — I have no idea how long that takes, but I guess I will email the funeral director to see if they’ve been paid. I’ve tracked down a tiny policy he had taken out decades ago, and discovered that I’m the beneficiary of it; I guess that’s because I’m trustee of the living trust. That paperwork has come in, but I haven’t had the time to sit down and fill it out; that will happen tomorrow as well.
Despite searching through boxes and files, Kay and I have yet to find the title to the 2009 truck Dad bought. We found the title for the 1977 Blazer, though not the boat. We also found the title to the 2000 truck he traded in for the 2009 truck; that’s a puzzle. Most surprising, we found the title to the 1956 truck that Grandad bought.
Since none of the vehicles were listed in the living trust, and since both the truck and the Blazer are registered in Texas, Kay and I had to go to San Augustine to the County Clerk’s office and get Applications for Affadavits of Heirship for the vehicles. What still astonishes me is that at no time did anyone ask to see the death certificate. Only the notary asked for our driver’s licenses. Hmm. Oh well. Now we can sell the vehicles. I figure we’ll use the truck for one more week and then sell it. It’s handy, but the money will go into our joint account for our new project: rebuilding the beach house I lost to Hurricane Ike.
Insurance, titles, registration papers, and deeds. These are the words that run through my head at the oddest moments, probably because I am obsessed by them. Now I am worrying about my own paper trail, and am determined that next week I will gather all my own papers together and put them in one place where they can be found. I’ve done this before, for Hurricane Rita, but have been slack about maintaining the stash.
And of course my notebook has filled with “to-do” lists. Some items have been crossed off. Others have been added. These are for Dad’s house, for my house, for asking questions about something, for tracking something down. Random jottings, in no particular order.
Because despite the month of detective work on Dad’s stuff, I am trying to get my own house in order. Literally. I am moving things back here from Egan, setting up a workspace and office again; that’s taking shape. I’m trying to find someone to repair the cracking/separating brickwork skirting the front of my front porch, as well as the middle brick column that has just separated from the base. Another follow-up call tomorrow.
Lawyer calls. Financial adviser calls. Insurance calls. Hunting for the safety deposit box key — finally located in a bag filled with other keys, but labeled quite clearly. Then a trip to the bank to examine the box, only to discover another insurance policy.
Trips to Crowley, to the farm, to Crystal Beach, to Galveston, to Egan, to Lake Charles, to the farm again. Friday we head to Crystal Beach and Galveston again, for the day, and then I head to Egan for a few days, coming back to Lake Charles on Monday. Some days I am just confused about where exactly I am.
Last weekend, Kay and I loaded a truckload of tools and put them in storage here in Lake Charles. On Sunday, I took a load of seasoned rough-cut black walnut lumber and some tools to a friend’s house; he’s a woodworker and will use the lumber to make desks for Kay and me. I’d planned a new bed for Dad, but that didn’t happen. The lumber came from trees on the farm — and was cut in the 1950s, I think. After I dropped it off, I headed to Texas to the farm and met family. My dad’s sister, her son Mike and his wife, and her son Charlie and his son from California were all there. It was a planned work visit, with new furniture replacing old. I cleared out Dad’s room of clothes and hunting camoflage. I think I ended up with 6 bags of clothes, one of boots, and four of magazines. I left with a full truckbed, drove to Lake Charles, and unloaded things to storage.
Dad’s attitude about being upset was to work through it — physically. To find some physical project to keep busy with. I’m finding that truer and truer this last month. I certainly have moments where I put my head down and think that there’s simply no way I can do anything more. That I’m just bone-tired of working, of trying. It’s not that I’m sad, or depressed. It’s that I’m beyond weary and cannot imagine completing all of the tasks that await me.
But I will. I just take a deep breath and maybe a break. Then I finish one thing and let others wait for later.
And that’s what I will do tomorrow. On the first anniversary of Dad’s death, I will see friends. I will make phone calls and follow up on business things. I will accomplish at least three items on my list. And maybe, just maybe, I will spend a couple of hours sorting through my own clothes, putting some in bags to donate; I’ll put some more boxes of supplies and things on the shelves in the workspace here in the office. I’ll unroll the new chair mat for the office. Maybe I’ll even start putting the clothes together for the trip to Greece.
I’ll know what day it is. But I’ll remember Dad by following his advice — his example. I’ll work through my pain.
But tomorrow, anniversary number one. I’ll keep busy.