My Dad was a “saver.” A procurer of particulars…a frugal forager. It was probably because he was a product of the Depression, but for whatever reason, if you needed ‘it’, he had it, at least one and an alternate.
However, when he died, I saw this tendency to save and truly felt its depth. When Daddy passed away we found many souvenirs, balls of twine, ink pens, jars of nails and business cards. We found his report cards, measuring tapes, hundreds of bank statements and thousands of photographs labeled neatly into chronological albums. There were boxes, bags and myriad other containers full of his mementos.
My brother and I waded through his things sometimes laughing …sometimes crying. Towards the end of our sorting, we bantered across to each other, “You take it!” “No, YOU take it!” Still, we filled large, black Hefty bags with things to give away or dispose of. His obsessive ‘saving’ wore us out. Sometimes, as we discarded, I whispered a prayer, “I’m sorry Daddy, we just have to let this go,” hoping he understood.
Last year I was going through a box of Daddy’s things that I had ‘saved’ seven years ago. When I brought it home, I thought I would go through it right away. But, seven years had passed and I had just found the strength to open the box.
Inside were our report cards, Baptism announcements, college essays, school pictures and more. I found an old, faded manila envelope, sealed with a piece of tape. Enclosed, were letters and cards my brother and I had sent Daddy through the years; Father’s Day cards, poems, and notes we had written him and behind those was a clump of letters tied with a string…. letters to Santa Claus.
I unfolded this one pristine piece of notebook paper and I was transported, as I read my childish handwriting proclaiming my goodness all year and a love for a certain red cowgirl outfit. Not all of our letters to Santa were saved, just these, from the year our mother died.
My Dad wasn’t always good at professing his love. He wasn’t the sentimental, mushy type. But, after he was gone, I saw his tender side amongst the 14 retractable measuring tapes and boxes of Navy war memorabilia. The cards and notes his children had sent and letters to Santa obviously touched his heart.
Suddenly, all of this stuff he had ‘saved’, became a piece of him…a bridge to the other side, where he was standing, arms open wide, saying, “See? I have always loved you.” And my heart whispered back, “I know, Daddy. I love you, too.”
— Nancy Malcolm
Nancy Malcolm is a true southern woman, who believes in the Southern way. Like, its never too soon to write a thank you note; everyone should own a deviled egg plate; and good manners often take you where neither education nor money can. And she definitely believes no one ever outgrows the need for a mother’s love. (To see more of her writing go to sittinuglysistahs.wordpress.com and soulspeak2016.wordpress.com).