I have a dining room table that I bought for $50. According to a date scrawled on the bottom, the table was built in the early 50’s. The woman who bought the table would have been in her 20’s. She lived in a farm house in the middle of Indiana and took the table and matching chairs home. She proceeded to use them, while living her life in that home for over 50 more years.
During that time, the city near which they lived was expanding. New homes were swallowing up farm land and soon their little farm house was completely surrounded by subdivisions and strip malls. Little did she know, that near the time the she bought her table, an alcoholic and a touring musician would have their second daughter somewhere in Nebraska. That daughter would grow up inside of a broken home until she eventually met a construction worker that she married. They would later have a son who, after 23 years, would abandon his mother, friends, and all family and move to Indiana with his wife and young daughter.
He would live there for another 3 years, until one day a leg on his dining room table would snap. As he drove out of his subdivision to go to work that day, he noticed a dining room set for sale in front of a small farm house. The last small farm house in a sea of subdivisions and strip malls. The woman who lived there, had passed away and her grandchildren were auctioning off her things. They sold the table, and chairs, that she had used for more than 50 years for $50. Half a century worth of meals, conversations, and memories were sold for $50.
I’m continually overwhelmed by how intertwined all of our lives are. It becomes even more apparent when you move long distances. Events that should have never occurred, do. I met my wife by chance while involved in a relationship with one of her friends. I met my last remaining “best friend” on accident because he happened to be dating the woman that my wife became roommates with in college. A boy I had known as a young kid would turn out to be one of the most influential people in my life, and then fade away as quietly as he had faded in. A friend’s suicide in early high school seemed like one of the major events o my life, and now the person that I was then feels more like someone that I read about, rather than someone that I was.
I fear that after a life filled with memories, filled with sadness, filled with intense joy, filled with anger, anxiety, love, hate, and every other emotion that has felt overwhelmingly intense to me, I will be forgotten all too soon. My wife will eventually pass on too. My children will make their own memories and I’ll soon seem more like a song they can’t quite remember. Friends will die, grandchildren age, nieces, nephews, they all move on. I see estate auctions and I can’t help but feel remorseful. A person’s entire life, heaped onto tables, and sold for pennies in front of their house. Children and grandchildren haggling the price of a coffee mug with some stranger. All in an effort to clear out the house in order for it to sell. Your life gets pawned in a day. Of course it’s impractical to think that my children, grandchildren, and on down the line, will maintain my house and all of my personal belongings for centuries after I’m dead. That would be impossible, but is it so much to ask to be remembered?
Every time I eat a meal at my dining room table, I think of the woman who ate their before me. All of the meals, the occasions, the life that literally happened on that same wood. Each scratch, or dent, or tiny mark was made by her and those close to her. I don’t know the stories but I won’t let her wash away from this earth for $50. I want these people to remain. I want reverence. I keep a knife that my grandfather gave me. I keep the obituary from my other grandfather, because he had nothing to give me, and no way to give it. I suppose he gave me music, and that’s more than I could ask for. I named my son after the friend that I lost in high school. It keeps him in my thoughts. What will my children keep of mine? Will they sell it all in hopes of clearing things out quickly? Will my songs all be thrown away? Paintings discarded? Poems burned? Will this blog suddenly be deleted? It will be as it was before I was here. Before I was born into a family of orphans, broken families, and no heritage.
This is my greatest fear. I fear this even more than I fear the unknown that will follow my death. I fear that I won’t be remembered. Everything I’ve done up until now has been an attempt at a legacy. Will it work? Will all of my guitars be pawned to teenagers I’ve never met? Will a cleaning service, come to scour my home of me, be reading the lyrics to my songs shortly before throwing them away? Will everything that I ever considered to be important, be lost? If I’m ever asked for a last request, it will be no more than to remember me.