One of the things I attribute to old people is having stacks of papers everywhere. At least that’s how my father rolled. He and my stepmother always had mounds of papers around their home. It didn’t matter if it was in their trailer in Arizona or the apartment at the elderly complex in Iowa, stacks of papers and magazines were an established part of the décor, right along with the neon on black woven wall hanging of JFK that hung above the TV.
The interesting thing is, it wasn’t done in a pack-rattish or hoarding manner. There was order to the chaos. The stack on the TV tray in the living room might hold letters or articles he wanted to read or pass along to others. The pile by the microwave would be bills coming due for payment. The heap on his desk contained old photos and mementos. The kitchen table was the place for new stuff, stuff in need of organizing into the already established piles. One could only guess what the papers covering the other surfaces meant. And right up until he died of a stroke just short of his 79th birthday 16 years ago, my father knew what was in each stack. It was his filing system. And it worked. He never hunted for anything. Ask him about something and he would put his finger on it in the blink of an eye and with a smile.
This morning, Father’s Day, I sat in my lounge chair, my sore knee elevated, the author’s proof of Ghost a la Mode in my lap for its final review, and looked around my living room. The wooden TV tray next to the sofa is piled with bills and correspondence. The table next to my chair holds a half-finished manuscript and the dining table is covered with marketing flyers, recent mail, and notes. A stack of magazines lives on the ottoman. Across from me stands the Mission style Stickley-Brandt rocker my father found in a yard sale for $25 and gave me 20 years ago.
Maybe it’s the influence of working on Ghost a la Mode and Hot ‘n Haunting, but I could have sworn my father was seated in the rocker this morning, smiling, nodding and tossing me a wink. Could be he’s visiting me on Father’s Day, as I always visited him on Father’s Day when he was alive. Or maybe he’s simply amused by the state of my home.