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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What will you leave behind?


I am thinking the Farmer and I are going to leave a few things behind for our loved ones when we leave. It won’t all be intentional.
I cut my weekly columns out of the newspaper and file them in binders in my office. I now have 11 years of columns. That’s 572 stories of our life here together on this farm. It’s like a “Dear Diary” of my life.
Most days before I head out on my morning commute I write a note to my husband and leave it on the kitchen island next to the 50-year-old stainless steel percolator that he insists on using for his coffee. I think the drip machine makes a tastier brew and more than once I have accused him of using the perk just for nostalgia’s sake. He does things like that. He has his favourite coffee cup too. I bought it at the Salvation Army. He says it perfectly fits his nose. I didn’t realize his nose was a concern. If I have fresh lipstick on, I seal the note with a kiss. Those ones are his favourites, but he keeps all of them.
If he is going out to show a house in the evening, my realtor husband leaves me a note. It’s usually very short, and funny. But don’t tell him I said that. I’m trying not to encourage his particular wry sense of humour.  The Farmer saves our messages to each other in shoeboxes so that our loved ones’ loved ones can get to know us a little bit better after we are gone. I think he is up to shoebox number 4 by now. They are in a rusty old metal filing cabinet in the basement.
I started writing important little things that I wanted to remember in a hard-covered journal the year we were wed. I still haven’t filled the book, because with my weekly column acting as a journal, I don’t have much else to say. The book is saved for the things that are either too banal, too trivial or too personal to print. That little book will be of interest to someone someday, I’m sure. It is already of interest to me, as I flip back through the past decade of scribbled notes about 30 degree days in November, sheep that had quadruplets, movies that made me cry and jobs that I applied for. It’s funny but I don’t even remember writing half of this stuff and it’s only been a few years since I did.
I also seem to be one of the few people I know who still prints photographs for albums. I actually have too many photos for albums so the Farmer gave me an old cabinet in which to store them. The cabinet stands about four feet tall and it’s two skinny drawers across, seven down. It will take me at least another twenty years to fill it with photos, ticket stubs, postcards and notes. I already have a tallboy of four drawers filled with photos and cards from our first decade together. These are standing right beside the front door of the house. I was thinking of pushing them out onto the front lawn when the porch caught fire last year. Luckily I didn’t have to.
There is something else the Farmer and I will be leaving behind, and it isn’t necessarily on purpose. My husband and I occasionally put money, spare car keys, gift cards and other valuables “in a safe place” for future use. Then we promptly forget where we put these things. I am also in the habit of stuffing ten-dollar bills in out-of-season coat pockets, so as to surprise myself when the weather changes. I do the same with purses that are out of rotation. Someone is going to feel like they won the lottery someday, when they go through our things.
I saw a documentary once about seniors who decide they don’t trust banks anymore. Some of them tape their money to the bottom of desk drawers. They stuff the piano or the mattress with bills or they fill a rubber boot in the attic. Then they forget that they did it. Years later, they pass away and the contents of their home are distributed or sold. Sometimes the new owners discover the bounty. Sometimes they don’t.
To whomever inherits the contents of the humble home that I have shared with the Farmer I would like to say, check every envelope. Do not throw out shoeboxes full of paper without having a read. Look under the chair cushions, and check behind the dresser drawers. I left something for you.
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