I sold off some more of my Dad’s life last week.
I sat there at the auction, watching the bidders compete, putting prices on things I once thought were invaluable to me.
It wasn’t much. The stuff they had to sell. Still it took me by surprise. Yet, every item that went up for bidding was part of everything that makes me who I am today.
First, an old aluminum hardhat from the 1950s, his initials, A-L-W scratched in the metal. His own hand-writing, no doubt, made with one of the pocket knives he always carried. I didn’t get that knife, I know.
If I could have anything, I would rather hold his hand one more time. Or, he and I could drink another cup of coffee from his old thermos bottle. That would be a blessing.
They sold a box full of giveaway baseball caps, the reds, blues, greens of long-gone, defunct oilfield supply companies. Twenty-five or thirty baseball caps given to my father by eager salesmen wearing cowboy boots and smoking big cigars I bet. They were trying to impress him.
The bidders were raising the price on a give-away cigarette lighter, and a heavy brass belt buckle showing a drilling rig and a company logo. Next was a free measuring tape with another logo on the side. I had to let it go.
We sold off the sort of stuff that collects itself in the corners of drawers and top shelves of closets. Too good to throwaway, too cheap to use. He had a lot of it, never used, never needed. Now someone else has it.
The stuff was his and now it’s theirs.
But, I still have the memories. I have the images in my mind. I can still see Lamar, standing on a rig floor, talking to a driller, telling what to do. Showing the younger men what to do. I miss him every day.
I can still hear his voice, when he called me on Thursday nights around 7 pm.
“Hello.” I say, phone in my hand. A long time before caller ID. Still, I knew it was his call.
“Yeah,” drawn out, almost two syllables long, only like we Southerners can stretch out a word. You could hear his smile. Like two notes of music, blended together. “What all ya’ll been up to?” Music to my ears, and I miss it every day.
They sold what was left of his tools. It was hard to let them go. He had used them with his hands, he had tightened pipes, loosened nuts and bolts, hammered things tight and hammered things loose.
Those were his tools. I know. He had held those tools to make work. But, I had to let them go. I’ve got enough of what was his. I’ve got his blood.
And, I can’t keep all his old stuff. I have my own tools and enough of his stuff. My three sons, I hope, will look at my tools one day and think the same.
“These are my Dad’s tools, he used them, he banged his knuckles, knocked some skin off, cursed like a sailor and fixed broken things.
And, there will be a day when they sell off some of my stuff, maybe. I hope they keep the memories.
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