What I found in the armoire

For a long time now, I’ve kept much of my professional paperwork in a wooden armoire in the dining room. And by “kept” I kind of mean “haphazardly stacked,” by the way. It’s a really cool vintage wooden armoire, in which I stored my clothes when I lived in New Orleans– and it was never a great receptacle for paperwork. Being really cool as it is, the armoire has a false bottom; and since it’s been filled (read: “crammed”) with my paperwork, I haven’t opened it in a few years.

I spent yesterday clearing my paperwork out of that armoire- sorting, organizing, etc.- and it turns out to have been exactly five years since I opened the false bottom. Because the only thing in that secret space- which was otherwise totally empty and clean and smelled like warm old wood, putting me instantly back in New Orleans- was a stack of cards. Now, I am notorious for not caring at all about greeting cards. I have been known to flip over a card, read the price, and say to the giver, “Listen: next time, just put the card back and give me the $3.99.” Also, I have no recollection of putting them there, so it was like: what are these?

They were sympathy cards that I received for my dad. Not the cards people brought to Dad’s service, and not cards which went to my mom: these cards had been mailed directly to my house by the givers. I sat on the floor and read them all. “Your dad was a great man,” one said.”Not many families have the spirit and love of your clan,” another said. My friend Ann’s parents wrote the sweetest note, referring to themselves as “your Minnesota Mom and Dad.” The notes went on and on:

“As a fan of your blog, I couldn’t help but be a fan of your dad.”

“A nickname from Ron himself was a coveted gift!”

“Even though so much time has passed, please know that I am here for you.”

“Behind his no-nonsense signature expression, Guido exuded warmth and light.”

“Ron and Joann deserve all the credit in the world for creating and nurturing such a loving, honest, hilarious, close-knit family.”

“We are so grateful to have witnessed your father’s love.”

During those devastating first few months after Dad’s death, I felt as though I was constantly wrapped in a hug by people who loved us. I felt that again yesterday- sitting in a beam of sunlight on my dining room floor, smelling New Orleans, and reading heartfelt words about my beloved Dad. No wonder I kept them.

I put them back in the armoire. Maybe I’ll forget they’re there- and then some day, years from now, I’ll have the bittersweet pleasure of stumbling across them again.


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