It suddenly happened that the family homestead was no longer to be a place of comfort and security. Difficult decisions were to be made at a segment of time, when all the remaining family peers hoped would have come much, much later, but providence dictates.
In days proceeding, I unlocked the entrance door and prepared to stay whatever time was necessary to complete the finality of an estate. It seemed the sound of the door opening had lost it’s welcoming sound. No familiar voices to beckon me in and bless me with hugs encircling my presence. Whatever sounds I created in the hollow of the rooms, only made me feel like I was standing within the walls of a huge O. I was decidedly alone to accept the inevitable that families come into existence, and families exit in their own capsule of time and circumstances.
Soon on arriving I felt the weight of the responsibilities and yet, the opportunity to treasure the moments of surrounding myself with the familiarity of a family home with all the contents of lives lived. I experienced the first night to be silently “alone”, and at times recalling the years of a supporting family through good times, and some purple days and grey nights, while accompanying trials, searching for answers in the deep place of the heart. The scenes come flashing, some quickly, and some linger, some are favorites, and some commanded a renewed promise of prayer.
Dawn comes thankfully in a ray of sunshine, warming my purpose of the day. The day begins with filling boxes with what once was countless little necessary items to the execution of the day. And yet without them the task at hand would be more difficult. How many times in the course of years, plus, had these domestic tools been cradled in the hands of family members? How many meals were prepared with these kitchen aids and cutlery, some passed on to one generation to the next waiting one. Multiply the number of meals per day to the number of years they served, the sum comes to a staggering number. Recipes that were copied by family members, because without them, home would be no more. The recipe box is much like a treasure box, for all it’s sentimental worth to a family. The memories of home meals with a mother chef serving favorite meals of each family member, such memories are made of this.
There was much laughter and good stories repeated to the younger generation during a satisfying meal with all ages around the table. To this day I can hear my dad saying, ” Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we eat warm-ups “.
Changes in life are like waves that arrive to the shore and back out again to some other unknown shore, hither, and yonder…and gone. My father was an avid admirer of Bob Hope for his patriotic devotion to the military troops during various campaigns, his humor saved the morale of countless brave young men and women. I am certain my dad would want me to quote one of Bob’s unforgettable tender thoughts;
“I have seen what laughter can do, it can transform unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful."
I hesitate where to begin the next project, as it catches my memories, slowing me down to an unintentional pace. I need to remind myself to pack what is at hand, and stop the reverie. The designated list helps to keep me in focus. I begin to see visible progress, cupboards, closets, stored boxes, upstairs and on the main floor. Suddenly my eye catches a small box with an old paper wrapping, somewhat like wallpaper print. Quick interest prods me on, I release the box top. Once more opening the inside folded paper, I find not a love letter, but rather, a “ messenger ” of love. The messenger was an unusual conveyor, meaningful only to two certain persons.
My dad was on a hockey team in his young adult years. To show his love, and possibly as a good luck charm to score the game, his sweetheart’s initials were boldly carved onto his hockey puck. This special inventive thought was the driving speed of an ingenious player on ice, with his “messenger” to score the game and win the game of love.
The discovery box brought me back to my childhood with my dad. Neighboring hockey teams would challenge each other at their respective town ice rink. I recall walking hand in hand with my dad to the game. The depression years were somewhat lingering, a resurgence of reminders to families very often were in conversations. Personal wishes were on the someday list, therefore my family did not yet have independent transportation for local games and away games.
All the games were scheduled for Sunday evenings. It was customary for my family to attend Sunday evening church service before proceeding to the game. I can still recall vividly at preschool age, walking into the cold night hand in hand with my dad to the hockey rink. My heart was warm with contentment. It mattered not that I remembered the game’s score.
Life has many challenges beyond scoring for a winning game. Reverting back throughout the years, my family like all other families, learned to accept, or, reconstruct the peaks and valleys of life. But playing a game to win, gives the fervor to be fearless, plunging forth to break the force; while depending still on the higher power…it was the verity of his personhood.
How many triumphs, disappointments, challenges and losses since this hockey puck was put into retirement? How surprised Mom and Dad would be that a family member would be grateful and consoled in unexpectedly finding “the messenger of love." One might say it was ice that moved the years with lightening speed. How can one keep the score of good years, some sorrows, some uncompleted plans, but recovered with unexplainable blessings and strength to remain in the game of love and life. In the numbers game, life is more than 50/50. at times one must go 90/10 to score.
DAD, YOU SCORED THE GAME BIG TIME!
Remember when your baby laughed for the first time and the both of you were surprised by it? And do you remember the day when your toddler hugged and held you tight, and you can recall the warmth of being a Dad? This kind of remembrance is a joy forever — HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!"