One of the goals of my road trip was to retrieve some items that were saved from my childhood home in Des Moines. When we moved Mom out to Phoenix, where my brothers are, I was working in New York City and had no room for these things, but I didn’t want them thrown out. I don’t remember if my brothers yelled at me for all the things I had them save, but they probably should have. Maybe they knew something that I didn’t at that time: you can’t control an emotional heart. You can’t rationalize with it. You just have to let it run its course.
The two things I remembered saving were a printers cabinet that my dad “acquired” and my old comic books. I wasn’t expecting this other stuff.
As I unpack them now, I’m alternating between laughing and crying. The fun and funny stuff included my Archies lunch box, in amazing condition, and two Play Doh Fun Factory machines, with seemingly all the pieces.
I laughed at the stupid little 10-compartment plastic chest full of tiny screws and rivets that I’ll never use and could have bought new for just a few bucks. And the two paint brushes, a combined value of maybe $3. Two hammers, some old canisters and a few saws were in the box, too.
But new screws and hammers wouldn’t have been my dad’s screws and hammers. New saws don’t come wrapped in brown butcher paper with his hand writing on it.
My dad died when I was 22 and there are many ways in which I try to hold onto the memories. He was a salvager and scavenger, and I loved that about him. I loved exploring in “his world” — the basement of our house. After he died, I would sometimes spend hours down there, just sitting, looking at all the stuff he had acquired in his 59 years. Scrap pieces of wood (he made into sculptures.) Boxes of matches. Reams and reams of discarded paper (he made that into scrap paper books.) More nails and screws than one carpenter would use in a lifetime, all stored in salvaged baby food jars.
Now this is all I have left. There’s no going back to the house in Des Moines and there’s nothing left stored at my brother’s house.
I wasn’t expecting, nor was I ready for this realization.