Sunday, April 3, 2011
The Dead Man's Foil
Of course we've all read the advice and comfort that columnists dispense to survivors of those recently deceased who are appalled at what they find once their loved ones have left behind. It starts out as "I'm sorry that you had to find this...", and it quickly turns into an admonishment to those reading the column itself: throw the things away that you wouldn't want people to find once you have died ("but people need to think about their loved ones and what they might find after they are gone.").
But what of the things that are mundane that one keeps around the house?
Cleaning out Ville Momma, we found all sorts of things that were meaningless to us, meaningless to even her. Like the second sewing basket - brand new, never used, in its bag in a closet with the receipt dated 2003. Or the old baggie that contains twist ties - dozens of them, all in perfect order, and of course, bundled and tied by a twist tie.
But for us, it is The Dead Man's Foil collection that we find the oddest, yet most useful thing in the house.
Before he passed away, my stepfather - a kind man who died too young at 80 - owned a commercial meat slicer. Stepfather was all about buying in bulk, because that's where the savings were. So he would buy meat and cheese in bulk, bring it home, slice it up and chuck it into the "deep freeze" out in the garage. This, was the man's shopping modus operandi.
When he died, his children came for the things in the house that had been his, and they smartly took the meat slicer. What they left behind were rolls and rolls of Reynolds wrap.
Since she no longer had the slicer - which she referred to as "wicked" because it could have easily sliced off your fingers if you removed the guard and the baseplate, overrode its safety devices and turned the thing on wile seeing how close you could get to the spinning blade before it sliced into your fingers - she no longer needed the foil.
"Take some. The cabinet upstairs is full of foil," she said in her usual hyperbole.
Or so we thought.
Following her death, we discovered literally rolls and rolls of tin foil, boxes of tin foil food service bags - foil foil everywhere and not a thing to wrap - which we have named: "The Dead Mans Foil." Large rolls, small rolls, heavy duty and regular. All name brand, tin foil. In the kitchen, in the basement. Foil everywhere. And then there was the cling wrap, the plastic bags, the celophane - you heard me - 40 year old yellowed celophane.
What did we do with all that tin foil? We brought it home and we are rearranging the pantry to accomodate the boxes upon boxes of foil.
So when we clean up after a meal, one of us will call, in our most somber voice "Bring out The Dead Man's Foil." And despite using it as fast as we can, the rolls seem to be unending. It really like a horror story. No matter how much we use, there are still boxes and boxes waiting to be opened.
So if you all have a chance to come for a visit, just look for the house with the two gentlemen seated on the front porch wearing foil hats. We'll keep the light on for you.