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Cleaning Kershner’s desk

Kershner's desk
Kershner's desk

I moved in the newsroom this week to the desk formerly occupied by Jim Kershner, our own walking historian, now retired from the newspaper but writing history, still, for us and others.

He had cleaned out his desk pretty well but left behind about 12 files. I'm pretty sure he didn't forget or need them, because we talked about what items he would be coming to collect over the weekend and he didn't collect these.

I looked through each file before pitching them all. One contained photos from an Elvis impersonator. Another had ideas for his column, dated 1992. One of his ideas: "Cars that are smarter than you."

Cleaning out his files made me miss him even more and it also helped me pitch many of my own files because I realize I won't need them. I flashed ahead to the time when we're all older people and then when we have passed on and our children and grandchildren will be charged with giving away our things. Or throwing them away.

We leave. Our belongings remain. And then they leave, too. Reused or ditched. This is life. And death.

My conclusion: Best to clean stuff out as you move along in life. Easier said than done. Anyone have tips on how to pitch files?

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.