My Dad always carried a pocket knife. Always.
When I was a youngster, he carried a big knife. A really big knife.
He used it to dig oak splinters out of a little boy’s fingertips when I was just a kid. The only pain I felt was when he covered the wound with red hot Mercurochrome afterwards.
He used it to split Vienna Sausages so he and I could share a stack of saltine crackers when I said I was hungry. It was sharp enough to cut a piece of cheese he bought from a country store or dig out a sardine from a can flat enough to fit in your pocket.
It was a hand full of knife, made by Case and Co. in Pennsylvania. A jackknife, with two blades. It had a Yellow Bone handle. It was heavy in your hand. A man’s knife. The kind made to last more than a lifetime. The kind of knife you leave to your son.
He never handed it to me without warning “Be careful, it’s sharp.” He kept it honed and as sharp as a straight razor.
If he opened the knife and handed it to me, then I had better not close it before I handed it back to him. He was superstitious that way.
Up on the rig floor, he could cut a piece of one inch manila rope with one stroke. I said it was sharp. He’d use it as a small pry bar or screwdriver if need be.
It was handy and always in his pocket.
The years always pass too quickly.
I was a kid, he was a tall, strong man. He was my hero. Then, I was a teenager. He was against everything I knew. And, I knew a lot back then.
When I was going off to college, he found me a summer job on a drilling rig. He started getting smarter, he knew how to make things work. He knew how to work rough men doing a hard job. I started to see a different man.
Soon, I had kids of my own. He knew more than anyone else in the world by then. He had the best answers for every question I had. And, he shared them with me, whenever I slowed down and asked for help.
One day I looked over at him and he was an old man. He wore cardigan sweaters to keep warm, even in the summer. No more work boots, he liked to wear his slippers all day long.
The knife. It disappeared a long time ago. I’m sure someone got it and they have no idea of the treasure it is. All they have is a handful of steel from someplace in Pennsylvania. I still hold onto what it meant to the man who owned it.
I don’t carry a knife. Just never needed to weigh down my pocket with one. Or, maybe I never had one that would equal the knife my father carried.
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