Another chapter begins

Published 6:49 am Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two weeks before Christmas and all through the house on First Avenue NE, it’s quiet.

Since retiring, I’ve spent the summer throwing away my life in preparation for a move. Big things and little things. Keep sakes no longer to be kept, collectibles only I collected, the accumulated debris of this man’s life.

Books once read, Sports Illustrateds, Playboys, newspapers.

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Coffee cups from every club, open house key chains, church anniversary china plates and t-shirts from every town’s summertime celebration for the last 24 years.

There won’t be room to hold onto any of these life souvenirs where I’m going.

I kept the children’s and grandchildren’s photos.  Their earliest school artwork too, report cards, of course.  Handmade Christmas ornaments cracked or not.

My eldest grandson Quinton, is helping me make the move and inadvertently making it more difficult than it should be.

It’s been 15 years at the two-bedroom house I came to like so much. Great neighbors, large backyard, a garage and, let me repeat, great neighbors.

First, children.

Then, grandchildren who lived with me even longer.

On Thanksgiving Day, they were here, and after dinner, we assembled in the living room and took time sharing memories of living together. I couldn’t see if there were any tears, but I heard the laughter.

Now, I wish I would have recorded the stories. If memory fails me, I trust the heart to hold the stories longer.

I make jokes about my next address: One of 100 apartments at Pickett Place. That’s done to hide my anxiety. One more invitation to play Bingo, and I will cry.

Only a few more days are left at the old house.  It’s fitting as I write this column, snow is falling, a white curtain ending this chapter of my life.

The other night, Leon Johnson, just about one of the most likeable men you will ever meet, said selling his house and moving into an apartment after the death of his wife was a very difficult decision; one he still mulls over a year after making the move.

Get back to me a year from now and ask me how I feel about my own move.

Until then, there are boxes to pack and memories to keep, and hours to go before I sleep…in my new apartment.

I’m hoping an eight-floor apartment will keep me safe.  They can’t play Bingo at that altitude.

Everybody who knew Tolly knows he had a great sense of humor.  This one’s for you Tolly:

A woman arrived at the Gates of Heaven. While she was waiting for Saint Peter to greet her, she peeked through the gates. She saw a beautiful banquet table. Sitting all around were her parents and all the other people she had loved and who had died before her.

They saw her and began calling greetings to her.

“Hello – How are you!

We’ve been waiting for you!

Good to see you.”

When Saint Peter came by, the woman said to him, “This is such a wonderful place! How do I get in?”

“You have to spell a word,” Saint Peter told her.

“Which word?” the woman asked.


The woman correctly spelled ‘Love’,and Saint Peter welcomed her into Heaven.

About a year later, Saint Peter came to the woman and asked her to watch the Gates of Heaven for him that day.

While the woman was guarding the Gates of Heaven, her husband arrived.

I’m surprised to see you,” the woman said. “How have you been?”

“Oh, I’ve been doing pretty well since you died,” her husband told her. ” I married the beautiful young nurse who took care of you while you were ill. And then I won the multi-state lottery. I sold the little house you and I lived in and bought a huge mansion. And my wife, and I traveled all around the world. We were on vacation in Cancun, and I went water skiing today. I fell and hit my head, and here I am. What a bummer!  How do I get in?”

“You have to spell a word,” the woman told him.

“Which word?” her husband asked.

” Czechoslovakia .”