My father died April 13, 2009.
Since that day, I have kept his wallet inside a white ceramic vase on a square table next to my bed.

To hold another person’s wallet, without their consent, even when they are dead, seems a violation.

And what possession is more personal than a wallet?

Like the expired man, his wallet contains expired credit cards.

I read the business cards stuffed into the wallet pockets.

One card is The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ where I saw him on the morning of October 14, 2006 after I flew into Newark on a red eye from LA. He had suffered some sort of a small stroke. And I cried at his bedside.

A Department of Veterans Affairs ID, created only a few months before he died.

A card from a Speech Pathologist who would help him pronounce words at age 75 that he once could say without practice.

He was a painter and took art lessons at The Ridgewood Art Institute. A green paper card, frayed at the edges, was valid through August 31, 2007.

AARP, Medicare, Costco, American Express, AAA, Master Card and Visa: the cards of a modern living American male. Pieces of plastic to insure, to protect, to provide, to make credit for any activity on Earth.

In his last week of life, I remember he was breathing with difficulty as he sat on a bar stool bench, at the kitchen counter in his apartment, going over his taxes, which were due in mid-April.

He was fatally and incurably ill and knew he would die from this inexplicable illness called Multi-System Atrophy.

But he was no different than any of us in his belief that he would continue to live.

My father’s wallet still seems to belong to a living person. And no amount of time or loss can diminish it.

3 thoughts on “My Father’s Wallet

  1. I’m sorry for your loss, Andy. I pray that God will heal your pain and fill that sense of loss. From the things that you’ve previously written about him, I’d say that he was a great man.


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