08 December 2011

And then, out of the blue...

My last post detailed rich memories of home, but it was surprisingly not hard for me to let the place go, really. Unlike so many people, who have to say goodbye to their childhood home because of a divorce or death, my mom is in relatively good health and chosing to leave, so I'm sure that helps make it seem less like a loss.

My dad died back in 2002 (holycrapIcan'tbeliveit'sbeenalmosttenyears), but even then, he had lived in the nursing home for ten years before he died. Sorting through his stuff was difficult, but not in a home-based way. Our loss was palpable and awful, and when the Salvation Army guy asked me if I wanted a receipt I sorrowfully said "Sure, if you want to put a price on my father's life, go right ahead." (I'm their favorite donor, I bet). But it wasn't entirely unexpected, and we had grieved parts of him since the stroke in 1986.

So I was taken aback when, in cleaning out the last nooks and crannies of Mom's kitchen, I found Dad's keys. I mean, I wasn't surprised they were there. It was the kind of thing we'd set aside after the stroke, in case we needed them again. Nearly 26 years later, here they are: keys to buildings that have long since been torn down, to PO boxes we no longer rent, to paddlocks misplaced or cut off years ago.

 Below, the laundromat keys, I think. Certainly those round keys went to the washing machines we had in our basement my whole childhood.
I remember him letting me hold this ring of keys. He showed me the bolt with the tightened nut, which kept his keys lined up the way he wanted (I don't remember what the broken key went to. Maybe the old Pontiac? Probably from before then.). The front one, with the words almost worn off, was for the lumberyard's north door.
 He carried these keys in his pockets for over 30 years, and they, along with a few dollars of loose change, made him jingle when he walked. They are worn so smooth, now, they feel almost soft. Polished metal, made so solely by my father. They were a part of him.
I slid to my knees on the kitchen floor and wept, for him and for all of us.

I miss him so.


nicole niemczyk rude said...

Oh, this makes me so sad. It's so hard losing a parent when they are still alive. And I imagine even more difficult once they are no longer physically there. I don't even know what to say except I'm sorry, Jen.

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful. I felt the same way when I found my dad's library card - He instilled in me a deep love of libraries and in the months before he died he often went to the library on his little scooter.

And seeing as how you like making jewelry, I can't help but think some of those keys would make very cool necklaces.... ~Meagan