Gold knife’s worth found in memories
November 03, 2012
A glimmer of gold stood out in the shoe box filled with odds and ends.
The shoe box was from some previous cleanup. Every cleanup requires a shoe box.
Into the shoe box go all of the little items I don’t want to throw away, but for which I can find no logical shelf or drawer where they can be combined with a family of like things.
The shoe box is for orphan items.
I smiled when I pulled the gold-handled knife out, not because it had great monetary value, but because of the person to whom it once belonged.
The knife belonged to my maternal grandfather and is engraved with his initials.
He was the only one of my grandparents I ever knew, but he made up for the absence of the others.
The land I live on is land he once farmed. I can remember him plowing behind a mule when he was in his 80s.
That was right before his health gave out and he came to live with us near Labadieville.
To the people of Hebron Baptist Church and the environs of Denham Springs, he was “Mr. Eugene.” To his children, he was “Papa.” To me he was “Grandpa.”
I was an only child of about 5 living in a country setting where there were no other children. He became my playmate.
He played his ever-changing roles from his rocking chair. If he rocked under the pecan tree, that was where we played.
If he rocked on the front porch, where he could watch the cars drive by, that was our playground. On a winter’s day, we might play in front of the gas space heater.
Whatever my imagination could conjure, he played his part patiently.
If I was an Indian, he was the wagon train master or the captain of the fort. If I was a robber, he was the stage coach driver.
After a while, he would get tired and hand back the toy gun I had provided him to defend himself from my attacks.
Then he’d pull out his little knife and cut off a plug from a rectangle of tobacco he kept in his pocket.
His tobacco was the only thing he did that anyone might have ever considered a vice.
When he tired of playing cowboys, I’d usually find soldiers or trucks or building blocks to play with nearby, while he continued to rock.
At night we’d often sit at the table after dinner and play a series of checker games.
Our conversation usually consisted of me asking questions and him answering them.
I don’t remember him scolding me, except for once when I accidentally shot him in the leg with my bow and arrow.
Knowing the trouble that would have gotten me into with my parents, he carried the secret of that wound for the rest of his life.
I thought of those things as I pulled his gold-handled knife from the shoebox and considered it for a while.
Then I slipped it onto my keychain. It had rested in a closet long enough.