What’s the oldest thing you own? (Toys, clothing, twinkies, Grecian urns: anything’s fair game.) Recount its history — from the object’s point of view.
My Dad died when I was twenty-three and he was sixty. We shared the same birthdays.
My Dad was a legend not only to me, but to many of the men who grew up in the twenties and thirties in Lima, Ohio. Well, maybe not so much a legend as it was a reputation.
It has been over forty years since his death. I’ve gone through periods where there was resentment, anger, sympathy, understanding, ambivalence, but most of all forgiveness and love.
My children never knew my dad. My nieces and nephews hardly know him. This is for them and me.
I have a picture of my dad. He appears to be two or three. The photo was taken about a hundred years ago. It’s strange when I look at it, I can see him plainly.
Dad was the youngest of seven children. When he was born his brothers and sisters were already married or just about to leave home. By his own admission he was babied.
He described to me how his Dad would sneak into the kitchen at family gatherings and the young ones followed. He sprinkled sugar on a spoon and fed it to them.
The first story about my Dad’s life he told me was when he was a young boy. I don’t remember the age, but for the sake of context he was pre-school.
Dad said they lived in the country. He fell asleep in a wagon. The entire family became concerned because he was nowhere to be found.
There is something about the loss of a youngest child. That child is like everyone’s child. In those days the older brothers and sisters had a hand in raising and nurturing the younger ones. A near parental bond is made by older siblings.
They all began to fear the worst; he had fallen in the well, drown in a creek, or kidnapped.
The family gathered in the living room to consider the next option. Dad walked in rubbing his eyes and wondered what all the commotion was about.
That pattern seemed to follow Dad for the rest of his life; his older siblings wondering and worrying about where he was.