Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Knife

     I don’t have very many memories of my dad growing up.  He was pretty much an absentee father due to his constantly working to try and provide for us.  This is no slight on him, it was his way of showing that he loved us, and his generation believed that the father’s main role was to provide.  Be that as it may, I can probably count on one hand the number of ‘memories’ that jump out at me.  However, when I think of my dad, I remember his knife.

     Sounds funny, doesn’t it?  What I mean is that my dad always had a pocketknife.  It was to him what cell phones are to you.  I guess he felt naked without it, but he always had it.  It was not a special or expensive knife, and when it would break he would go purchase another one.  He liked it sharp.  At least once a week he would sit in his chair watching television and sharpening his knife on a whetstone.  He would sharpen it until he could shave his arm, then give a slight nod of his head, fold it and put it into his pocket.

     Dad died two years ago.  I met with my brothers and sister as we divided up his personal belongings at his house.  I live on the mission field.  I cannot carry large ticket items, nor do I have room for them in my apartment.  So, we would go around the room and take turns selecting items.  The big screen tv went to one brother, the truck to another, and the furniture to my sister.  I took the knife.  I ended up with a small collection of old pennies, a clock, and his knife. 

     I have never been a knife carrying guy.  But lately, I find myself sliding that old, slightly rusted pocketknife with the loose blade into my pocket.  I have no need for it.  I haven’t used it in, well, I don’t guess that I have used it.  However, I carry it.  I pull it out of my pocket to get my keys or to count change.  I put it on my bedside table at night with my billfold. The next morning I put it in my pocket and carry it all day.

     Why?  Because I love and miss my dad.  He may have not been there for many things in my life, but he was my dad.  That knife is my connection to him.  I think of him often when I see it beside my alarm clock or have to set it on the store counter as I add up the change for the purchase.  I am now an orphan, both of my parents have gone ahead of me to heaven.  I guess the knife just reminds me that even though they are not here, they are there and I will see them again.  It is a connection to a childhood and a bridge to the future.  All of this in a $10 pocket knife.

     I was thinking about this and how my dad had no idea that he was forming a memory in my life.  He did not know that the knife and the nightcap (he always drank a whiskey/7up nightcap) would be my childhood.  Then I look at my kids.  What will they remember?  If Jesus doesn’t come back before I go to Him, and my children gather around a dining room table to talk about their lives in my home, what will they remember?  What will they talk about?  What mnemonic connection am I making in their minds?  What do they ‘see’ me doing?  What do they ‘hear’ in their mind’s ear?  What is it in my house that says “DAD” to them?

     I know what I want them to remember.  I know what I want them to think.  But, am I doing something to see to it that what I desire is actually happening, or am I just letting life go by?

     The knife is a reminder to me.  I want my kids to remember me as someone who loved God, loved my wife and loved them.  I want them to think of my laughter and my silly antics.  I want them to think of me as someone who invested in others and thought ahead.  But, am I doing things that make them see this, or am I just at my computer?

     Life is too short to just let it race by.  I am prayerfully going to be more attentive to the things I want them to remember.  How about you?


Stumbler said...

Thoughtful Joe.... and from the heart.

I remember my grandfather showing me how to make toffee. And what great toffee it was. You've made me want to hunt out the recipe.... I've not ever made it.