Away From My Desk

I have to go out of town for the funeral of a relative. No, it’s not the relative who was in the terrible car accident last month — he’s still in the rehab place in Richmond, slowly recovering.

This relative was a geezer, only a little older than me, so his death — although a bit early from an actuarial perspective — was not such an awful blow, just a sad occasion. I will be going down there tonight for the service and the reception tomorrow, and will be back sometime tomorrow evening.

So no news feed tonight. Mind your p’s and q’s while I’m gone — don’t throw your empty wine bottles behind the davenport, or stub out your cigarettes in the aspidistra pot.


18 thoughts on “Away From My Desk

  1. Please accept my Christian condolences. (if don’t know if this is customary in the US, but those of faith still do it this way here. I hasten to add that I do not consider myself a particularly good Christian).

    • Yes, it’s still done here, Outlaw Mike.

      The B’s family is small, so each death is hard.

      The saddest part for me, as a once-upon-a-time orphan, is the eventual loss of the family home. It was a beautiful Craftsman house, built in the 30s by the B’s grandfather. This home was the place where the various generations gathered for holidays and the childhood scene that appears so often in the dreams of the generation following the one that grew up there.

      After Grandpop died, his son and wife lived there until they, in turn, shuffled off this mortal coil. They were followed by the current generation until Brother Death showed up yet again. None of the remainder of this generation – or the next one which has followed on – could ever afford to pay the taxes on that property, much less attend to its upkeep.

      So after three generations, it will go to some other family who won’t know its history. I hope they love it as much as we did. I wonder if they will be visited by Grandma’s ghost in the bedroom upstairs, as we were. She died suddenly in the house, way before her time, of a heart attack many years before Grandpop joined her. I think she left chores undone, since she was often glimpsed doing housework – seen by those who believed *their* visitor had never been seen by anyone else before.

      • That sounds sweet, I hope the new owners give the home the love and care it deserves. How about a picture of the house for us Craftsman aficionados. You should see mine, and I am still working on the finishing details.

      • Condolences on the death of Baron’s family member. Sad to hear that the family homestead will have to be sold.

        • Perhaps, but that’s the usual nature of things in the U.S. , where there is sufficient wealth for families to move and live separately, coming home only for visits.

          Once upon a time (when it was built) this particular homeplace would have been considered well beyond a normal commute to Washington. By ordinary standards it still is. But as the federal bureaucracy has metastasized; it keeps eating real estate further and further out, so that the cost of any house far exceeds what it would be worth in a normal place.

          This phenomenon exists all along the edges of both U.S. coasts. Look at the huge numbers of homeless in California. It’s a toxic social problem that cities there have neither the means nor vision to solve.

      • I appreciate Baron’s informing his public of when we can expect fewer posts. And Dymphna, at the risk of being an obnoxious little twerp, please find a way to lead the Baron to the understanding that, for example, I may be older than he [is], but not older than him.

        English is such a rich language, one that you use so well.

        • Ho! You’re right about that one. Some posts are more colloquial than others — that is, I write in the same dialect that most Americans commonly speak. In such cases I’m known to even split an infinitive or use a preposition to end a sentence with.

          At other times I become quite formal in my writing. When that happens, grammatical and syntactic errors become solecisms up with which I will not put.

      • Sad to hear that property taxes will cause the loss of a family home. In CA once you have the mortgage paid you are pretty much home free but I understand that taxes can be a crusher in other states. We came close to a similar crisis over permit fees for a home in a national forest in Idaho, but the situation was resolved.

  2. The quantum theorists all believe that information is never destroyed and, hence, all believe in ghosts-of-the-departed living on in lonely homes, forever and ever.

  3. “not such an awful blow”

    Ouch, I hope the family of the decedent does not read this blog.

    • They would agree. An “awful blow” would be the death of a child, or a parent whose children were not yet grown.

      I’m sure there is an implicit hierarchy of awfulness, of real tragedy, that sudden death brings. One likes to see the children grown and married and well-established in homes of their own. Had this relative ever married and left children behind, they’d be inheriting the family homeplace. But those descendants don’t exist, more’s the pity.

      Kind of reminds me of the outcomes among the landed gentry in Anthony Trollope’s England. Without a close heir, third-cousin-once-removed Algernon Thwaite-Smythe would inherit the title and the manse…even if he’d never heard the late Lord from whom he was inheriting that pile – AND inheriting its attendant, unbearable tax burden.

    • Oh, they would agree with me. I talked to them today. He went too early, and it made us all sad, but it’s not like the death of a grandchild or a child. That blow is worse by at least an order of magnitude. And I speak as a member of a family that has had to endure the latter, which is a grievous sorrow that never ends.

  4. My condolences too.

    Sort of related, and maybe of interest, a friend of mine’s grandmother (formerly secretary to George Bernard Shaw) died some years back; her house, built in the 1920s by a Canadian couple, was in the style of a log cabin, only large (two stories) and with a thatched roof (I have a couple of photos). It must have been unique, probably on the planet, but was subsequently demolished as the fire insurance was prohibitive.

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