The last few months, I’ve been helping my aunt and uncle decide what to do with their manuscripts, correspondence, papers, and library. They’re not planning on leaving the party any time soon, mind you! But it’s good to have a plan, so we’re planning.
They do not have any children, but they helped to raise me – so I am as much their daughter as their niece. I’m also the executor of their will. This means that when the time comes, I’m going to have to be in control at a time when I will feel most lost. And what I do not want during that time are scavengers collectors coming to me, looking to buy things (manuscripts, first editions, whatever) and potentially arguing about things when I will be (if history is any indication) barely able to decide what to have for breakfast, let alone what to do with 50 years of author’s papers.
So we are in talks with an institution to possibly set something up wherein pretty much everything (except the cookbooks, Pete, did we talk about that? Because I will fight you! Or just invite you and your family for dinner… a lot….) will go to them. And I just absolutely fucking love this idea.
I love it because it rests their minds. Not that I’m a “I’ll just throw away all this shit” person, but they have put years and heart and soul into what they have, and I imagine that knowing it will go to A Place, where people who want to will be able to access it, rather than into storage until gawd knows what happens, must be a weight off their shoulders. They don’t have to worry about burdening anyone. The people that want what they have are extremely excited.
I love it because it rests my mind. I don’t have to sort through it, to Marie Kondo everything, to look through paper after paper and feel the weight of ghosts as I sort things into a bunch of piles that I’ll have to make more decisions about. Ghosts, in case you’ve never sorted through the ephemera left behind after a loved one’s passing, are very heavy.
I love it because the people who are asking for it are not just librarians but enthusiastic science fiction and pop culture fans. I’ve met them, since I’ll be the one they’ll be dealing with, and they are all absolutely lovely, funny, genuine, smart, thrilling people. One of them reminded me soooooooooo very much of Tim’s mom (also a librarian) that I’m really hoping there might be a time in the future where they meet. I think they’d get along like a house on fire!
I love it because it lets me off the hook with people who might come around after Aunt Gay and Uncle Joe leave the party, looking to buy stuff up. I am enamored with the idea of being able to say “so sorry, it’s all already taken care of.” I’m not saying that everyone who comes around will be a vulture, but I know how people behave, and I would not be surprised to see at least one person hoping to get a bargain on something collectible by pulling one over on the remaining grieving relatives. Not that I’m an easy mark! But I know I will not be at my best, and this is just like… insurance.
I love it because the same place is also interested in what I have of my dad’s papers, and I love that even in death, part of the brothers would still be in the same place. Some people can go to a graveyard… I’ll be able to go to library to feel my family still around me.
Not that I ever pass up a good graveyard trip!
So. That’s just been on my mind, since we met with another person from the library last week. Planning. Preparing. Being practical.
Do you and your family have a plan?