Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Things you find when cleaning up...

Things you find when cleaning up...  My office has been a complete disaster ever since my mom died, just over a year and a half ago.  That's because her stuff is strewn everywhere in it, and I've been procrastinating – waiting, really, until it wasn't too awful while going through her things, trying to decide what goes where or to whom.  It's still an emotional roller coaster for me, but at this point I'm not sure it's ever going to get any better.  So I've begun the great office cleanup.

I've just barely started, and already I've found some things that were surprising, and some other things that brought me a nice big smile.

The biggest surprises so far came from skimming through my mom's voluminous medical records – hundreds of X-rays and a couple thousand pages.  Before I shredded these things I wanted to make sure no other papers I'd want to keep were embedded in them (as I have found things I've kept in some very odd places).  This time I haven't yet found any other papers – but I did discover two medical issues my mom had that I had never known about.  The first was from 1998: the detection of a tumor in her brain, 1.5 cm across (so roughly walnut-sized).  I found the X-rays, radiology reports, and a written recommendation from her GP to have surgery, despite it being (as he put it) “quite risky with a relatively high expected mortality”.  So far as I know she never had any such surgery, and I can't imagine how she could have had it in secret – so she must have declined (not all that surprising for her).  The second issue was from 2007, the detection of a lump in her breast and the diagnosis of benign but with a recommendation to have it removed.  Again, I don't know of any such surgery – but that kind of surgery could, I imagine, be done without my ever knowing about it.  On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me to find out she'd declined that surgery as well!  In any event, neither of these contributed in any way to her death, so if she did decline them, in hindsight it wasn't a bad decision.

In another box I sorted through, there were some of our personal papers.  One of them was a note from November 1990, from the owner of a motel in Trinidad, Colorado.  If you click the little photo at right, you can read it.  She's thanking Debbie and I for some things we left behind for her, her husband, and their dog.  Neither Debbie nor I remember the incident at all, though it does sound like something we'd do.  We remember the trip very well, though: we were taking a friend from San Diego to Colorado for surgery, and then back home.  We stayed in Trinidad for a couple of days waiting for our friend to be ready, and we must have stayed at Hannah's motel.  We have lots of nice memories of that trip, so this brought lots of smiles.

Also in that box was something very meaningful to me, personally.  I've removed identifying information because so far as I know the author of this letter is still around, and I didn't get his permission to use his name.  Friends of mine from the late '90s or early '00s will probably be able to figure it out, though. :)  This is a letter of recommendation written to help me find a job after I fired myself as the CEO of Previo in 2002, because we were winding the company down.  The author knew me better than any other Board member did, so his kind words were something I cherish.  I haven't looked at this letter for over 15 years now, so reading it this morning was almost like reading it for the first time.  I never did use the letter to help find a job, but I did lean on the author a couple of times as a reference.  Both times the prospective employer commented about that reference call being amongst the most positive they'd ever done.  Both times they hired me. :) 

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