traced the list that cataloged his possessions. Mostly, his worldly goods were
to be sold, given to the poor, or junked at the curb. Ross, Russell, and
Jessas effects, too, were to be triaged - Nicholas new residence
would be half of the size of his present one. While it was lovely that his
children had grown, it was less so that they still stowed their jumble in his
cottage. Besides, they had asked him to deal with their discards since they had
no more interest in their childhood bits and bobs than in his antiques.
So, one ratty teddy bear or
nearly-new set of Brio trains at a time, Nicholas made piles for doctors
offices and orphanages. Hospitals had rules against receiving used objects, but
pediatricians, who were often overburdened by medical school debts, taxes,
staff salaries, and insurance premiums, and childrens homes, which were
overburdened, in general, welcomed castoff toys. Similarly, boxes of wee
trousers and of tiny pullovers were directed to a local fund for unwed mothers
(not all new parents can afford baby minding, hence, not all new parents can
afford to work.)
Whats more, the local
chapter of the Veterans League was the designee for: Nancys wedding
dress, their large, maple bedroom set, and some nicely framed mirrors. Nicholas
valued supporting the men and women who safeguarded the world. He found homes
for his old vinyls and newer snow shovels, to boot.
Yet, when the elder opened
the closet housing the many-hued cartons of tea, he felt as though his heart
was fleeing his chest. Nicholas sat down on a kitchen table chair.
Ross had always insisted on
drinking carob; it mimicked Nicholas coffee. Russell had loved
peppermint; he believed that those leaves could energize him without
ill-effect. Jessa had liked a new-fangled vanilla/chamomile blend. Nancy,
though, had spent eras sipping hibiscus.
One summer, in comraderie
with his wife, who was trying to reverse high blood pressure and to keep
various elements of her metabolic disorder at bay, Nicholas had tried that pink
stuff. It was neither tasty nor aromatic.
Despite that teas
missing zing, he had brought thermoses of it, daily, to the hospital after
Nancy had had her stroke. In those quiet rooms, Nicholas silently questioned
why he toted that liquid; his wife was fed by a tube and he still lacked
fondness for that stuff.
All of the children stayed
lived at home for a few years following Nancys death. Ross took a job at
a local garage (he waited until he considered Nicholas settled
before enlisting in a neighboring citys police force.) Russell enrolled
in MIT-proctored online courses. Afterwards, he moved to Boston to pursue
graduate studies. Jessa finished her senior year of high school, toured Europe
with friends, and then opened a poster boutique in the familys basement.
A decade later, she met and married Gordon, a framer. The two bought a
storefront in a nearby, upscale town and ran their business there.
Nicholas continued his work
in IT. He was twenty years shy of retirement when his beloved passed on.
Colleagues, his mother, his sisters, and his children tried to encourage him to
date. Nicholas graciously begged off. He was content coming home to his cats,
his television, and his La-Z-Boy.
Nonetheless, he mollified
his dear one by buying fashionable eyeglasses, repainting the front of his
house, and joining an early morning mall walkers group. Nicholas was bewildered
by his familys fuss.
Rather than fade, though,
that fuss morphed. As Nicholas got closer to leaving his job, his
family sent him advertisements through both his tactic and electronic mail
slots. His big sis thought he ought to move to Florida. His younger sis thought
Arizona would be suitable. His mom, an octogenarian, invited him to move in
The kids, correspondingly,
offered up ideas. Jessa suggested that he take a trip around the world. Russell
suggested that he volunteer on an organic farm in California. Ross wanted
Nicholas to write a column on the best beer in North America. That son
volunteered to quit his job in order to chauffer his dad around Canada and the
USA Nicholas merely had to pay for all of their motel stays and meals.
Ross savings would cover Rosss toiletries and hed split the
cost of gas and tolls with his dad.
All things considered, for
a while, Nicholas remained home. He: became a grandfather, lost more hair, and
witnessed two generations of cats expire. His final kitty lived to nineteen.
Eventually, as well, the bands of squirrels, which had stolen seed from the
front yards feeder, likewise departed; the aging tree, which had been
holding the miniature table, had been felled by lightening.
Nicholas moved from the
kitchen to the bedroom to fold Nancys skirts. A homeless shelter had
accepted those precious garments and was even enthusiastic about accepting the
familys extra cutlery. Nicholas shook his head. Dismantling life required
During a break, which he
spent on his tattered recliner, Nicholas glanced over up a pensioner
villages brochure. Construction was to be completed in eighteen months.
In the interim, hed travel among children, sisters, and parent. The
limited belongings, which he had elected to keep, would be put into storage. He
had already purchased his senior discount, super-duper, bus ticket.
A few weeks thereafter,
when his son-in-law had carried away the last of Nicholas personal
effects, Nicholas took a final stroll with the mall walkers. As he paced the
third floor, stopping twice at water fountains, he noticed that a new health
food store was opening.
On one side of its door,
the window featured all manner of seaweed. On the other side, the window
featured herbal teas. There was carob. There was peppermint. There was vanilla
chai. There were no packets, however of Hawaiian Hibiscus. Nicholas wondered
how folks could manage without pink tea.