If any of you have had to go through a parent's belongings and papers after they've died, you know the feeling.

For those of you that haven't, it's a sometime-scary ride. You just don't know what you'll find in those drawers in bedrooms that have stored precious and priceless information for a couple of generations.

Our dad passed away a little over a year ago, and now that my siblings and I have mom settled on where she'll live, it's time to sell the house. Over the weekend I helped clean out my dad's dresser and along with my brother and sister, and came across some really cool pictures from before we were born.

We had already found the "fig money" just after he passed away, which helped pay for some added expenses around the funeral. He grew figs in the backyard, from cuttings of trees his father brought from Italy in the 1920s. He loved and cared for those trees like they were his kids. Well, over the years, he would bring them to farmers' markets and sell them for a nominal price. Fresh figs are a rare commodity in New Jersey, and the markets were happy to get them.

Tucked away in one of his drawers was all of the money he had collected from those figs over a couple of decades. We anticipated it would be a couple of hundred dollars, but it was much more. It wasn't a fortune, but it was a testament to how careful he was with his money and how he never knew if some rainy day, we would need that money. We still get a chuckle out of how much he had stowed away from those figs.

More precious than any treasure or amazing pictures from the 1940s and '50s was a letter I wrote to my dad all those years ago. I was in my 20s and just starting out in my career. My older brother told me he had found a letter that I wrote to him just prior to my 21st birthday. He gave it to me Friday, but I didn't have the nerve to read it until Sunday. He traveled a few times per year for business, working for the Department of Defense, and would be away for six weeks at a time. If something big were to come up he wanted to know about it. It was a time way before cell phones, Facetime or the internet, and I was rarely home when he called, so I wrote him a letter. I can probably count on one hand how many letters I've written and mailed in my life, but I'm glad I wrote this one. I think he was too.

Most of the letter was about a car I was about to buy and how my job was going, but the real important part was what I said to him about him and my mom. I won't go into detail about exactly what was said, but I made sure that I let him know how grateful I was to him and my mom and that I hoped I could live up to what they had done as parents, should I ever become one. Well, I did become one, and I hope I lived up to his legacy, but the point is that I let him know that, and he kept that letter tucked away with other valuable mementos and papers for the rest of his life.

If you have someone important in your life that has made such a positive impact, for which you would not be the grateful person you are today, let them know. It matters.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis' own.

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