I told my siblings that I was waiting to make sure there was nothing outstanding that needed to clear first, and that wasn't a complete lie...just not the whole truth. There hadn't been any activity in their account in nearly six months. No, I had been putting it off because, a part of me didn't want it to be finished. It was the last tangible connection I had to them.
Around four years ago, it was discovered that Dad had made some sort of error in his account that resulted in a rash of bounced checks. I remember being shocked when it happened because he was always so fastidious with his affairs, so conscientious and orderly. I was called in to find out what the problem was and soon after took over all of their finances from that point on. Dad had made a math error, then several others, and before he knew what had happened, he had a real mess on his hands. While trying to reconstruct what had happened, I discovered exactly when it started. His handwriting gave it away. Suddenly out of nowhere his fine, bold hand became an illegible scrawl, his checkbook an incomprehensible muddle. It took a while, but eventually I got it all straight, and I would spend the next four years paying their bills.
When it first happened I was dreading it. I have a hard enough time keeping all of the other checking accounts in my life organized, was I really ready for another? But something strange happened along the way. I began to actually enjoy it. A couple of times a month, I would drive out to their house and sit with them at the dining room table and pay bills. We would laugh and joke around. Dad seemed releaved to be out from under the responsibility. Sometimes Mom would get all up in the pictures about something and I would tease her about being a lunatic. Then she would fix me something to eat before I left. After Mom passed, I would pay bills every other week during one of the nights that Pam and I brought dinner to Dad. He was always so thankful, so grateful for every little thing I ever did for him.
It's almost been a year. Dad died on the 16th of June, 2014. It took me almost a year before running out of excuses for keeping his checking account open. For me it was the last piece of physical proof that they existed. And now it's gone, closed out, shut down. When I returned to my office I fed their remaining box of checks through the shredder.
I'll be ok. In a couple of days I'll have gotten over it. I'll realize that I have other proofs of their existence, namely, my brother and two sisters, and all of their children. Ryan, who looks just like Dad. Kaitlin, who has Mom's insanely thick hair. Patrick, whose innate sense of right and wrong, his hatred of anything unjust, was planted in his heart by the blood of his grandparents. There's evidence all around me, come to think of it.
Now that I think about it, Mom and Dad always cared so much more for all of us than they ever did about what was in their checking account.
It wasn't even close...