Defending Dads

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Forty-One Years Gone V

The last three days of the clean out were by far the most intense.

Wednesday morning, I hit the floor at 3:00 AM. I had to drop off my tax papers recovered from my grandmother’s apartment to the mailbox at my tax preparer’s office. Afterward, I had planned to hit the gym, then fix and eat breakfast before heading to New York. Alas, I had forgotten my ear buds! I needed these to pipe jungle music directly into my cranium during my run. The omission necessitated a stop back home.

Of course, the additional stop subverted my plan. Once I had the ear buds, I wondered if I should still try to squeeze in a workout before heading east, thereby risking a battle with rush hour traffic.

Should I stay or should I go?

I went. Just across the border in New Jersey, I stopped at Wawa where I gassed up, grabbed a roast beef club and a cup of coffee. In a finger-snap, I was off.

The commute was magical. I found myself crossing the George Washington Bridge at a few minutes after 6 AM. I was awash in that satisfaction peculiar to the completion of a job well done. In fact, I had enough time to sneak in a work out at a gym in the Bronx!

I had to get it in. Working out first thing in the morning boosts my energy level and increases endorphin flow, greatly improving my chances of success on a given day and we had plenty to do.

I started calling the relatives immediately after the workout. I sensed surprise in their sleepy voices. I rolled my eyes and absorbed the subtle, harmless digs. They were well deserved. I had not been getting into New York as early as promised and here I had shown up virtually at the crack of dawn.

No one was ready so I thought of what I could do in the mean time to help our effort. Boxes! We needed boxes. We had determined the previous week that we wouldn’t pay a red cent for these as freebies were plentiful at the loading docks of most retailers in the borough. Low and behold, the gym is in the same development as a Target. I drove to the docks and found a stack of some 40 boxes already broken down and ready to go. Into the minivan they went.

I proceeded to pick up the relatives and get them over to the apartment. Even parking was not a problem that morning. For once, we were ahead of schedule. I felt totally empowered.

There is a Home Depot blocks away from my grandmother’s building. Patrons routinely abandon shopping carts on surrounding streets. I found one of these and brought it back to the apartment. Absent a convertible hand truck, it proved a godsend.

I had made an appointment with a commercial shredder to drop off the sensitive documents days prior. I loaded my Home Depot cart with four stuffed 50-gallon trash bags, grabbed my mom and bolted.

We returned to the apartment and loaded the minivan with donations to the Salvation Army. My cousin Arrielle and I made that trip.

We were beginning to see more carpet than stacked objects at the apartment. This had easily been our most productive day. I knew then that, no matter what, the clean out would be done by Friday, September 30.

I think Ruby would be proud.

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