Friday, October 3, 2008


My brother’s house stands empty now. The tools that I had to step over upon entering it the first time after his death are put away. His piles of motorcycle parts and papers – gone. Cleaned up. Boxed up or thrown away. All the things he considered dear or essential – unnecessary now. Left behind. He took nothing with him. No one does.

I’ve been to his house more times in the last two weeks than in the six years that he lived there. I’ve been there with my kids, with my husband, with my sister and brothers, with Cindi and her sister. And recently, I’ve been there alone. I walked through the chilly house, trying not to think as I saw the framed photos of Greg smiling with his son still up where he left them.

Of course he thought he’d be back.

Today I removed all the photos from the refrigerator. I couldn’t stand to see his memories on the metal door.

I’m still not sure what to do about the things that are left in the house. The lawyer said I’d be appointed administrator of the estate by the end of this week. But being appointed doesn’t give me sudden knowledge of what to do. Isn’t there a manual I should read, a brochure with easy 1 – 2 – 3 instructions?

But it’s not like that. What does one do with another’s estate? I’ve made a few calls, canceled some magazines and a credit card, but what do I do with the house and its contents? Sell them, I know, but where do I begin?

I can think about Greg now without crying. But when I go over and see his beloved gardens, his more than 80 hostas, most of which he could name – that is still very painful. Greg was the only other member of my family who liked to garden; none of my other siblings do. Sometimes he'd come to my cubicle and describe what's blooming that day. He loved to walk through his yard and marvel at the beauty of the plants.

Fortunately for me, Larissa has caught the bug. So we have dug up a few of Greg’s hostas and I’ve started planting a memorial garden in my front yard, a garden created from plants taken from his gardens and transplanted from mine. It’ll be a lovely garden, Greg, right under the redbud tree.

I wish you could see it.

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What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)