It’s Saturday. Which means I’m thinking of my dad today.
He died on a Saturday.
My sister nailed it when she compared it to a new born’s age. You count every day of their life. Here in the beginning stages of my dad’s passing, and our grieving, we count each day too. It’s been 12 days, It’s been 18 days. We have now entered the week stage. Five weeks. Thirty-five days.
I have a storage building sitting in the backyard of my mother’s house. It was the very first thing I bought, outside of a car. My uncle owned and ran a portable building shop and he sold me a building for $600. I, being very young, but needing a place to store my stuff when I moved back in with my mother, paid him $50 a month for a year until it was paid for. Interest free.
My dad asked to store some boxes there once. The building just sits. No one ever adds to or takes away.
Today something compelled me to go to the building. I opened the heavy door, cautious of waspers that sometimes fly about. I pulled the heavy door open, stepped inside, and the Texas panhandle wind blew it shut, leaving me in the dark. Outside, I saw a rake lying near and propped it open. Inside were boxes from my highschool years, old clothes, a box of carebears from my childhood, an old couch and chair, a desk, and several boxes belonging to my dad.
They were labeled in his handwriting: Important papers, Colored Bottles and Teapots, and of course Books.
I love his handwriting. But more than that, I love his writing. His actual writing. So often the people who knew him and speak of him, talk about his words. Just today at my garage sale, an old co-worker of his spoke of how he could write and use words so well. I know that his special friend Jane fell in love with him through his commentaries in the local newspaper before she ever even met him.
Being a “writer” myself, I was thrilled when I opened a box and found his stories from his stint at the newspaper, and then I found a journal. A small, light green spiral bound Mead notebook. On the cover is printed in his hand NOTES #1 Journal. The inside cover reads in cursive The Journals of Bob, and printed on the back cover is The Journals of Robert lee—soldier, statesman, Author. My mom always cautioned me about keeping a journal. Others will someday read your innermost thoughts and feelings. I’m anxious to read this journal, but I’m also excited. I’ll hear from him again. His words will live on.
I do believe my dad lived longer than he ever thought possible. In the Important Papers box, there was a manilla envelope filled with printed computer articles with titles such as “Brain Basics: Preventing Stroke”, “Guidelines for Management of Ischemic Attacks”, “Practice Guidelines for Acute Stroke” that my sister had mailed him in 1998.
And written in his hand on the outside of the envelope in a red pen are these words:
In these, my final years, I believe in Love.
I also believe in Kindness, Tenderness and Mercy.
I believe in The goodness of mankind.
I above all believe in family.
I must never let my life be ruled by drink or drugs. I must never let my happiness depend on the thoughts, whims or demands of another person.
I swear that I will never forget the goodness of Truth and honesty. I will always remember the harshness of life…And, I will always know its warmth.
I have known its Love.
55 years, and holdin’
2 or 3 strokes
Each Saturday after today, I’m going to share a story from my dad.
Until I run out of stories.
Or Saturdays, whichever comes first.