So today I was cleaning the last of the closets here at the Chiles Estate.   I had put off cleaning them out for some reason.  I think I ran out of steam.  It was down to the coats and the jackets and it was harder than I thought.  My father in law had a lot of coats.  A lot.  They were crammed in the hall closet and we had already gone through and taken some out that we could pass on.

One of the things that I had the forethought to do was check the pockets.  You never know, do you, what folks leave in their pockets?  I found handwritten notes-grocery lists- written by my sweet father in law.  A wave of sadness hit me and I realized that the grieving process continues.  It made me think of my own Daddy who died in 1994.  I don’t remember helping clean out my dad’s things but I imagine he had handkerchiefs and maybe Lifesavers in his pockets.

I don’t really have anything handwritten by my own Daddy but I do have something he typed up–maybe his handwriting was as bad as mine is these days.  My mom found it quite awhile after he died.  It was in a place where she had looked many times but for some reason it was not meant to be found until then.  It was a note to my mom.  In it he wrote a little bit to each of the four children.  It was sweet and it was an insight into what he thought our strengths  were at that time.  I can’t remember what the date was when he wrote it (I have it safely tucked away in the firesafe box in Iowa) but I was only in grade school, I am pretty sure.  I am not sure what prompted him to write it or why but I do know that he had me pegged.  He told me to always keep my love for others and that my gift of being with older people was one of my great strengths.

We have teased our boys and told them that we are going to leave things all over the country for them to find when we die.  Make it kind of a challenge for them—a sort of death scavenger hunt.   Maybe I need to start working on that now and start writing those notes that will make them smile when they find them.  I definitely will do that—maybe not the scavenger hunt part but definitely the notes that tell them how much I love them.



  1. Lovely post. It would be cool to leave notes for your kids…and hopefully they won’t read them for a long long long time.

  2. Beautiful post… I wish I could hug you… I love the note that your dad wrote your mom. How I wish that I had something like that… I don’t even remember what my dad’s handwritting was….it is funny, it is something we never think of until it is too late

    • Thanks, Hilary! It was kind of funny how it hit me–I mean it was only grocery lists but still it made me realize that that was something that would never be written by him again. Plus we are winding down the time here and I guess I am getting emotional about that, too. Who would have thought??? 🙂

  3. it’s a wonderful idea to leave something hand-written for your children. especially something personal that shows who you were, and how you felt about them.
    when my grandma died and they were cleaning out the house she and grandpa shared for so many years- and her alone after he had passed; they found these old journals from when my grandma was a young girl, a young wife, a young mother. they were full of poems and drawings that she had done. neither my mom, or her 6 sisters (or 4 brothers) had any idea that she could write or draw. probably because with 11 kids – she didn’t have time to do it anymore.
    But also with those journals, she had kept anything that we grandchildren had done, so a hand-made book of poems and drawings that I had done for her when I was little and spending summer vacation, was also safely – and lovingly kept. How wonderful to see this piece of my grandma’s heart, and to know that she treasured pieces of my own!

    • That is such an awesome story!!! I especially love that she kept your little book and it surely shows how special that time with her was not only to you but to her. My mom has kept diaries forever and I do mean forever. She has said that when she thinks she is “losing it” she is going to get rid of them all. I hope not. I really hope not. She thinks they are silly and not interesting but I think it is a piece of history. Thanks for sharing about your grandma—put a smile on my face for sure!

  4. Well you’ve got me to thinkin’, with all of the writing I do (poems and such) I do not have anything like that for my family..Hmmm thanks Beth Ann and thanks to your daddy too.

    • You need to do it, Jake!! Absolutely!!!! You need to leave a written legacy to them even though your poems are going to stand the test of time they would love to have something to find later on!!!

  5. I’m sending you a virtual hugs right now!!! I remember when my dear aunt pass away i was only 13 and I helped my mom and cousins clean up her closets and we found so many things. This is about few months after she pass away. That day we laugh and cry together with each items we found. I feel like she’s with us at that time again. The memories of those who left will always stay.

  6. Glad I stumbled on your blog…you have a lovely, honest, succint way of writing

  7. We have a hand-written note from hubby’s grandpa. He passed away from cancer just before we met and our son, who is named after him, was born almost a year to the day he passed. Every so often, usually when we are with hubby’s grandma we take it out and read it and they tell me stories. It’s sad but also makes you smile to remember…

  8. Helen Brown says:

    I, also am glad your Dad wrote the note. I keep it in my lock box and take it out ever so often and read and even though tears begin, I feel closer to him. I have not burned my journals yet but I think about doing it.

  9. What a precious post. The missing part never ends, but what a treasure when we find things left behind. Start writing those notes as your boys will be so happy you did some day. Big hugs. Diane

  10. What a great post! I love the idea of leaving hand written notes! I am not looking forward to going through my parents things at all….and who knows what I’ll find.
    I have left me children notes all of their lives… who knows what the future will bring…but this has definitely got me thinking……. hmmmmm

  11. Great idea, Beth Ann.

  12. It’s always fun to find those kinds of notes. I remember how cool it was when I found my mom’s college diary, and notes my dad made about things. It’s true, you should always check the pockets before throwing something away or giving it away.

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