The Man I Did Not Know

About a month ago I was called on to estimate a small renovation. The home was part of a Co-Op in which an elderly gentleman had lived and died.  I brought one of my sons along to assist. The unit had many tablets of drawings and some paintings placed carelessly about. Nothing exceptional from my perspective, non the less it was an accumulation of self expression from a man that had expired. It was not my place to spend time focusing on them, but my son, while waiting for me examined them.

Before leaving my son inquired if he may keep some of the tablets.  At first I felt it bold of him. Then the manager said, "Absolutely, you may. The contact for the gentleman directed us to donate all the belonging to the Salvation Army and what they didn't take, to throw away. It's kind of sad to just toss all this out with no one taking the time to examine his personal belongings. It is nice of you to appreciate his artwork. Please take what you like".

Today, I started the job. The place was filthy, the air so stale my throat constricted. I opened every window and door to air the place out. Most everything had been removed. A cushion less couch out on the deck, flower pots dry, filled with dead plants and a perfectly good Hammond organ that no one wanted to play, is all that remained.

In the tiny work shop, I saw placed between two studs some photos of his former glory. He was a player for the England Arsenal Football team from  1937 until 1942. He was also a member of some Royal Cricket Club that won a championship.

When the maintenance manager visited us he explained how the man that lived and died in the house was tried and convicted of trying to smother his wife to death while living in England. He at some point came to Canada and lived a meager life.

It is amazing how the final accumulation of a man's life can be  tossed away. All that he created and loved ignored forever.  Here too, many years from now, all that we express and creatively create will just disintegrate, forgotten, uncared for, terminated like all of our lives.

Uploaded 08/06/2011
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