A daughter asked me to come look at the books from her mother’s estate. When I got there, the family was busy cleaning up the house to get it ready for sale. It smelled like a combination of cat and cigarettes. Paneling and shag carpeting told me when the residents concluded the house didn’t need any more updating.
I could see the mother’s decline stacked in a corner: A cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair. Going through the books had an element of grave-robbing, except that when I do grave-robbing, I do that at night and with the aid of a slow-witted assistant.
The daughter was disappointed that I didn’t find more books to buy (they usually are), but she thanked me for coming out. Later, at home, I found some papers in one of the books. It was a eulogy the daughter had written for her father. I thought about mailing it to her but decided not to. I thought it might remind her of another time she felt the pain of loss. I hope I did the right thing.