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What I'm taking

In most cases when a parent dies, the children inherit mementos, furniture, silverware, china and so on. Things are a little different here. Oh, my sister and I are both inheriting some money, and I get the house and its contents (which right now looks mostly like a major headache), but at least in my case there simply is no room in my small motorhome for piles of inherited stuff, and I refuse to take things that will just sit in my storage room.


So I made up my mind long ago that there was just one thing of Donald's that I wanted as a keepsake: this bobble-headed glyptodont that he carved three years before I was born, and which I always loved when I was a child visiting his lab.

"What's a glyptodont?", I hear you asking. Well, imagine a prehistoric creature that looked something like an armadillo but was about the size of a VW Beetle, and you have the general idea. This miniature version has a head and tail that are delicately suspended and counterweighted inside his shell, so they sway in the slightest breeze and bobble when he's nudged. The movement is both comical and surprisingly lifelike.

One of the first things I did was to hunt him up (actually, Donald's friend Bob Hook found him for me), and he now sits atop the stationery drawers on my desk, next to the dancing, singing flowerpot from my friend Gretchen. (The flowers play the Rivieras' 1964 hit "California Sun" while bobbing and twirling—a silly performance that always delights me.)

The whimsical little glyptodont is really all I need of Donald's—that and my memories. It epitomizes his skill as a craftsman, his sense of humor, and of course his profession: vertebrate paleontology.

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