Sunday, January 18, 2015

Being of Sound Mind

            I’ve been thinking of my last will and testament.
            For me, a tardy, irresponsible sort of adult, the last word on who-gets-what was penned in my second-grade year.
            To Melinda Packer, my next-door neighbor and number-one play buddy, I left my ballerina music box—the windup kind that starts strong and goes slower and slower until the ballerina concludes her slow reel to the last detached notes of Für Elise.
            To Ann Jamison, a year older than me and Melinda and the leader of our pack, I left my pink bike that looked exactly like hers. (She was pretty pissed off when I first unveiled it, as I recall.) I don’t know why I chose to leave her a duplicate of her own bike, but Ann was indomitable and fierce. I can picture her learning to trick-ride two identical bicycles straight down the middle of Brookhaven Drive.
            To Amy Wright, my very best school friend, I leave all of my money—sort of a reward for those weightless recess moments when we teeter-tottered and sang songs and deliberately ignored the boys in our class, who ran all around, hiding and finger-shooting each other as they imagined themselves as the KISS army.
            My cash position has changed dramatically since I left Amy Wright my worldly wealth—a jarful of change at the time. Now, I’m sorry to say, Amy is saddled with five figures of debt, and she’s going to have to find a way to deal with it. I wish her well.
            As I recall, I left “everything else” to my dog, Missy, a blind Old English Sheepdog who loved spaghetti beyond measure, and whose white face was often stained orange with Ragu. “Everything else” now includes a car with 200,000 miles on it (you’ll want to replace that timing belt, Missy), and some funky second-hand furniture, and a kid or two. But Missy was the perfect dog—soft to lean on while watching Schoolhouse Rock, a listening ear when Melinda and Ann left me out of the fun, a fuzzy foot-warmer on a winter night.
            Missy would make a great parent, Common Core math homework aside. She was compassionate and would happily bathe anyone who happened to be covered in marinara sauce. I don’t see where she could screw a kid up more than I can. In fact, she seemed to have perfect instincts for loving.
            I like to think of Melinda, opening the door to a courier, signing for that box, and then hearing the first strains of tinny Beethoven. I last spoke to her around 1976. It was quite a year. I remember lying back on the hood of my parents’ Plymouth Fury and watching a fireworks display to rival any I’ve seen since.

            It was a perfect summer. I honestly didn’t think it would ever end.

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