- Vol. 08
- Chapter 12
Now my father was dead too and I was an orphan. Despite his gradual deterioration, over a long period of time, I thought he had many years left to live. The shock was immediate. Tears fell aplenty as the completeness of death rammed into me. The enormity of never seeing his gentle face again, his empathetic gaze, hearing his soft voice, smiling at his little indulgences like the special biscuits ever present, just for me. I couldn’t bear the hollow emptiness of his house, the ringing silence so slipping on his cardigan I went to his shed.
I needed to be in a smaller place of his to feel the essence of the man and this had been his place, his retreat from my sometimes domineering mother. I breathed his warm comforting smell from the cardigan, pulling it around me as I entered the woodiness of his space, wherein he had made a sledge for us on a rare snowy winters morning and made himself late for work, a doll’s cradle for me which had been given to a poor lady over the road when her baby was born and was sleeping in a drawer.
Dad’s tools hung neatly from hooks or lay on home made shelves. A small window gave light when the door was closed and it was then I noticed the small rusty key hung on a string of thin flex wire. I wondered what it could be for and then I remembered a box he kept on top of the wardrobe. I had noticed it’s absence but assumed it had been disposed of as it would have been too high for him to access in recent years. I had often wondered what he had kept in there as he was a man of few possessions and simple tastes.
As my eyes swept round the shed interior they fell upon it, sideways on a shelf where you might have missed it. I lifted it down, it was quite light in weight so perhaps it was empty merely decorative. I admired the smooth wood and finding it locked took the key and it fitted. Holding my breath, I opened it.
My hand moved to my mouth, stifling a sob. There was a felt pencil case that I had made my Dad when I was a young child, cross stitch newly learned and applied reading DAD. Underneath were two black and white photos one of his father in his sea captain’s uniform and another of himself as a young child sitting on his mother’s knee, his vivid blue eyes looking at me with their familiar penetrating clarity. Finally two small pieces of paper. Our first school reports, my brother’s and mine and two medals for running, one each for his children .
In his eighty four years, these were his greatest possessions it seemed. My dad. Family man.