Why I Value All The Little Things My Father Left Behind When He Died
by Julie Jules
You can’t take things with you.
Sometimes when I’m thrifting, I find myself thinking about how I’m buying more things. I’m at the age now where I have friends coping with the difficult chore of clearing out their deceased loved ones’ clutter. I try to keep that in mind and often ask myself “Do I really need this?”. I find myself putting a lot of stuff back… for someone who actually does need it.
Other times though, something pulls me in and I take that little abandoned item and give it a new home. Who says you can only rescue animals?
This is the clock in my kitchen. It hung above my refrigerator when I was a child. I’d often find myself staring at it. It was one of those fixtures that remained unchanged throughout many changes. When my mom sold my childhood home, I asked if I could have it.
“Your father loved that clock,” she said.
Today I noticed that the clock needed a new battery. I removed the old one and chuckled to myself as I noticed it still kept on ticking. I love when I get little signs like that. Message received.
And then it occurred to me. Leaving behind things isn’t always so bad. It can be quite a gift.
Throughout my life, I have searched for little tidbits of information about my father. He passed away when I was nine months old. Knowing he loved this clock is one of those little nuggets I’ve tucked away in my internal treasure chest.
People have no idea the clues they leave behind. As a little girl, I hungrily absorbed every detail I could. From his collection of Zippo lighters, his Konica camera, his shirts, the letters he wrote, his handwriting, all internalized. Anything I heard about him, I’d tuck away as if it were a precious gem.
I heard that he loved drinking V8 juice, so I forced myself to keep drinking it until I liked it too. I knew he hated to have his fingers sticky (me too!). I knew he lovingly called my mom Moonface. I knew he liked to pronounce a candy company named Callard and Bowser in a funny voice. That he loved to play practical jokes on everyone. That he loved the stage. He sang me “Our House” by Crosby Stills and Nash while rocking me to sleep in front of our dining room window. All these are little morsels that helped me recreate my dad in my mind. Anything to feel like I at least almost knew him.
One other thing I knew about my dad was that he told my mom he was scared he was not going to live much longer and wanted to spend as much time as he could with me. He had an aneurysm soon after he said this.
He didn’t take that clock with him. But he left a little bit of himself behind in it. Every time I look at it, I think of him. I cherish how unique it is that he had the type of personality that would find beauty in a sweet little “home sweet home” clock. I love that I know this about him. I bet he never fathomed that one day his baby daughter would someday look at the same clock on her wall and that it would make her smile.
Maybe some day, my offspring will stare at the same clock and think about how I loved it and so did my dad. Something that finally ties us both together. Memories keep people alive, even if their battery runs out.
Time may never stop ticking.
Yet love lives on.
March 20, 2020