I accompanied him to the bank, insurance and utility companies to get the details changed over to his name and file the death certificate with the appropriate parties. One of Mom's giftings was tracking the family finances. Because of this and the fact that Dad was very busy, Mom handled all these areas over the years and Dad was thrown into the deep end of the pool with her passing.
It was at one of these appointments that Dad was asked by the clerk what his physical address was. Silence followed the question. The clerk repeated the question perhaps thinking that Dad had not understood or heard clearly. Dad had not a clue . . . zero . . . nada . . . just a bewildered look on his face. He looked over at me for this proprietary information. I said, somewhat incredulously, "Dad, you don't know what your own address is?" The answer of course was 230, 5th Avenue North. This is where he and my mother had been living for the past 18 years! I'm pretty sure he didn't even know his own post office box number. Not even sure he knew his phone number? Looking at me, he said in all seriousness, "I know where I live . . . why would I clutter my head with that information?" I chuckled and gave the clerk the address. For the past 18 years, Dad had walked back and forth to his office on the campus and evidently not once thought it was important to memorize his address, which was prominently displayed on the front door of the house.
For those of you who know my Father, you know that there is nothing wrong with his memory or his ability to retain a fact such as his own address. Dad is a veritable walking encyclopedia of information. When I was in school, working on a report or research project, I often asked Dad if he had any resources or information pertinent to what I was engaged in at the time. He would disappear into the labyrinth which was his library and emerge a short time later holding at least one, if not several books. Grinning from ear to ear, he would point out with his stubby index finger, the exact passages in the books that would be of help to me. Dad had a library numbering close to one hundred thousand volumes and he knew where every one of those books were located and what was contained therein. He had probably read the vast majority of them as well! These memory skills have served him well through his life as a great teacher, writer and preacher. Yet, he did not know his own address.
As humorous as I have found this event to be, I've pondered it over the last few years. How often do I, do we, clutter our minds with trivial stuff - not necessarily bad stuff, but stuff just the same? Stuff that takes our minds off our goals, distracts us from our purpose and sidetracks us from achieving what we have set out to accomplish. Maybe Dad was on to something. After all . . . he knew where he lived!
© 2010 Stephen J. Rendall - All rights reserved.