“Now these… these are really worth something…”
My father – no, my dad – dusts off an old box and opens it up. Inside is what, to me, appears to be a load of old junk. The attic is full of the stuff.
Every time that I visit my parents, he is up there, in the attic. There are boxes stacked to the ceiling, and barely any available floor space to walk. What little floor space there is has been littered with trinkets, memorabilia, screws, dirt, and dust. You can’t walk through it without shoes; you’ll cut your feet to pieces.
When I do visit, he likes to show me around. Much of what is up there, I’ve seen before, like the boxes of toys from my childhood. But, every time I visit, he likes to pick up boxes, that, as far as I can tell, are placed in random locations around the place, and tell me about what is inside them.
This is not unusual behaviour for parents. I understand that. However, after he tells me about these trinkets and objects and old toys in these old, dusty boxes, he then tells me how much they are worth. This also is not that unusual. However, what is unusual is that, typically, after showing all this to me, he finally adds something along the lines of, “I know you’re not really all that interested in any of this, son, but I don’t have much time left and I want to make sure all this isn’t wasted.”
I usually try to change the subject when he starts along this line of reasoning, but he tends to continue, adding, “I don’t have any pension, and I don’t have any savings. This is all I have. And I want you to make the most of it when I’m gone.”
I never know what to say. In the past years, he’s had arteries transported from certain parts of his body to other parts of his body and he’s been diagnosed with diabetes. He’s also been finding, every now and then, that the skin cancer he keeps battling has returned. Trips to the doctor are now routine, and he takes the scraping of parts of his face off in his stride. He has taken to wearing a hat most of the time to cover the scars and healing scabs.
But I can see that he suspects that… well, that his days are numbered. He knows it, I think. We know it too, because of course all of our days are numbered, but in this case we are hopeful that he has many years – decades, even – to go before he clocks out forever.
In the end, I am forced to realise, we can try as much as we want to fight what will happen in the future, but after all our wrangling and negotiating, after all our scheming and fighting – when all that is gone – we are left there, naked and alone, with nothing but our hope. I pray that it will be enough.
James lives in the UK and writes whenever he gets the opportunity to do so. Most of his writing appears on Tumblr. He’s also made a chrome extension for keeping up-to-date with Tumblr blogs.