“This is my most special place in all the world. Once a place touches you like this, the wind nevers blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child. “
– Moonlight Graham
Last night I was continuing with my cleanup. I came across some old stuff in my dad’s roll-top drawer desk. It has zillions of drawers and after almost 3 years I still am barely throwing away some things. I came across some old Savings Bonds that he had bought for me (I had found these once before but they hadn’t matured yet and I remember giving the others to my siblings). I could hear my dad saying, “Money’s tight, don’t spend it all on one girl”. My dad was always funny like that. I remember calling home from college one day to ask for help and his first words were, “Did you get a girl pregnant?”. Fortunately I hadn’t, but my dad always had a comment to lighten the load.
Coming across the savings bonds seemed like he was still here. In college, I remember he used to slip a $100 bill in between some clippings from my favorite columnist, Herb Caen, the Pulitzer Prize columnist who wrote so eloquently about the Beautiful Baghdad by the Bay known as San Francisco. If ever a city belonged to someone, San Francisco belonged to Mr. Caen. Herb Caen wrote about my dad on many occasions. Many heard about the dentist who had a wife who owned candy stores (very true) and also about how my dad and our dog would retrieve golf balls stolen from the Presidio Golf Course Driving range by young “hooligans” and rolled down Arguello Blvd and hit them back onto the course at night. My dad never told me about those incidences in our house. I had to read them in Herb Caen’s columns after finding out from friends.
The columns were treasures themselves, but for me they were more than that. They were a conversation between me and my dad. How much he loved San Francisco. How much he enjoyed raising a family here. How much he wanted us to have more than he had to start with.
I’ve mentioned that I worked for a luminary on the aging of America named, Ken Dychtwald. Ken has nightmares of those growing old, dying, and leaving theirfollowing generations with debt and no base to grow on. My dad did not do such a thing. As I watch movies like “P.S. – I love you” or the “Bucket List” or even the book called “My Life With Laura”, I see examples of people who give richness, instruction and other items to others even while in their last days or even after they are gone.
So finding those Savings Bonds was in a way a chance for my dad to pass something on to me this holiday season and he seemed to know I needed it. I also found all the baby teeth (remember my dad was a dentist) that he saved from my brother and sister. I put them in my dad’s old business envelopes and gave them to them as stocking stuffers. I also found my dad’s golf shoes which fit my brother. I told him he had large (size 7.5 actually) shoes to fill. My dad had 4 holes-in-one in his lifetime.
One of my questions to Chad Moutray, author of My Life with Laura, was as to why he felt the need to publish his memoirs. At first I felt it was more for his own sanity, then maybe for him to move on. He kept saying it was for his daughter. I now feel that if I were him, I’d have to put all those feelings in a place where they can be read by his daughter and he can leave them there. She can then see the wish that the love of her parents wanted for her and her mother can be there for her forever.