I think that part of my issue with pulling apart so much of Michael’s stuff is that so much of it belonged to his family…his mother’s family…and through those things I almost feel as if I know them.

Not that Michael was particularly beloved by them or they by him…there was his inattentiveness, his lack of self-discipline, his rebellious nature, in what was a strict Sicilian household. He and his mother lived with his very strict grandfather who had them all, his oldest son, his daughter and Michael’s mother, all under his thumb.

There was things that the Parisis were good at. They were very organized and good with money. Two things Michael wasn’t particularly good at. He could squirrel away his money, like they did, but couldn’t seem to invest it or figure out how to capitalize on it.

I found one of their bookkeeping registers from 1955. They owned a grocery store and the bookkeeping is meticulous. It’s amazing that they accounted for absolutely every penny. Michael couldn’t keep a checkbook register if his life depended on it. Michael and I consistently took cash out of each other’s pockets and the other never missed it. It was a running joke with us. Or we’d each be surprised to find money we didn’t know we had. The Parisis would never ever operate like that.

The Parisis collected things…as did he…coins, stamps, memorabilia. Most of the most valuable are gone but there remain a few remnants. There are old pictures including his mother and father’s wedding and honeymoon. I’ve given a lot to the girls, but feel as if the whole collection is being broken up.

Uncle Earnie was a photographer and I have a set of slides from their 1956 trip across the country. I’ve looked at them a bunch of times. Michael still has the projector. And some of them are definitely worth reproducing. But Michael kept the slides and projector on the shelf in his closet in every single house we’ve lived in. And now what do I do with it?

As I’ve said, if our positions were reversed, he would just pack up all my stuff and carry it with him for the rest of his life. Even if he moved 10 times, he would still have all my stuff.

As he has a lot of theirs. There are boxes of things I’ve never seen (such as all his report cards I recently uncovered).

I feel as if I’m erasing different parts of a family history that I really have no right to erase. I’m trying to preserve photos and things like that but do I keep the bookkeeping ledger from 1955? Though it might not look like much, for some reason, I have trouble throwing it out.

Michael always insisted upon a garage and basement. Mostly because we’ve got so much Parisi bric-a-brac that he’s held onto. But I’m moving to an apartment in the city after this and I don’t know what to do with it.

I feel sad when I take something of Michael’s and move it or throw it out. I feel confused when it’s something of his family’s. Almost if I have no right to even make a decision about it.

He was the only grandchild of Antonio Parisi of Messina, Sicilia. I know that Antonio had other brothers (one went to California and one went to Austraila). I’m sure there is family out there (I even have pictures of the other brothers), but Michael was the last person to live with the four of them and to know them all well.

I never, not once, ever thought this would be an issue. We seemed to have been paring down every time we moved and Michael was making decisions about his family’s things. But because they were all (including him) packrats, it’s still a lot of stuff.

I sometimes think I have no right to dismantle their lives, to erase their existence on the planet.

I know that dismantling Michael’s stuff is the hardest, but with him I take a family whose stuff has lived with us since we’ve been together. It’s hard.

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