It was a Sunday, and my sister and I were going through a marathon session of removing wallpaper from the walls of our deceased father’s study.
When he was alive, we did not think it at all strange that he had spent so much time alone there — he was a quiet island of a man whose only demand was to be let alone with his thoughts and notebooks.
From those notebooks came the most amazing things: inventions that fueled the family fortune; thoughts that hinted at universal secrets; and stories of adventure and curiosity.
It was easy for our family to swap away intimacy with the man, sometimes for weeks at a time, who was so obviously happy and well-adjusted, in tune with himself and the universe, when he was with us.
When he was with us, he raised us all to some other level, one might call it transcendent, with a word, a gesture, his mere presence.
He was an enigma, a mystery.
And, as we scraped away the wallpaper in the room imbued with his most personal moments, we began to uncover, to reveal, the secrets that explained the man.
Like peeling an onion, though, peeling that wallpaper raised new questions, and revealed new mysteries for his children to ponder.