Finding Dad In My Lunchbox

Last weekend, while in the midst of trying to find some cupboard space for our new hand mixer, I found Dad in my childhood lunchbox.

Figuratively, of course.

As I pulled bowls and other baking paraphernalia out of the cupboard to make those ever-important decisions  of “keep” or “donate”, I dusted off good ol’ Charlie Brown and Snoopy as they peered at me through their faded and scratched faces on the box.  All at once I was brought back to my elementary school years of blue bell-bottomed Wrangler corduroys, pocket combs (does anyone carry those anymore?), and Catholic school uniforms. I could almost feel the anticipation of my 6 year-old self peering out the classroom window, waiting for Mom to pick me up in the yellow Ford Country Squire station wagon from half-day kindergarten. It was then, and only then, that I got a moment of Mom all to myself.  Lunch with Mom was always special as we mused about my morning’s cut and paste project or I overheard  her chat on the phone– all while making grocery lists or reminding herself out loud what needed to be done before the rest of the gang came home and invaded the quiet on Quail Road.   Sometimes while eating with Mom, I could barely keep my eyes open. I knew that I would soon get to take “the” nap–the one I wish I could now take as an adult– the nap where I was eased to sleep by the noises of the work it took for Mom to maintain a household of seven.  After my nap I’d often sit on the front porch, eagerly awaiting the mailman to come so I could tear down the driveway and “deliver” the mail to Mom–that’s when she’d finally sit down to take a break in her recliner and sift the mail into “Mom piles” and “Dad piles”. I can see it still today.  All those memories live in the lunchbox.

As I contemplated whether Charlie and Snoopy should go into the “keep” or “donate” pile, I opened it up and found Dad.  It was Dad who had written my name on a small piece of paper and taped it to the inside of the lunchbox in his signature “all caps slant”: KEITH GARVERT.  Memories of Dad overcame me as I ran my finger over the 36 year-old piece of Scotch tape that kept my name attached to the lunchbox.  Dad.  I always gave him such a hard time about his handwriting. You see, as a child, I loved–and still do–handwriting.  It was most likely one my favorite things to do in school and at home. I could get lost in the endless practice of trying to make each letter better and prettier than the last one.  Dad, on the other hand, had perfected the art of writing in all caps– with the only exception being when he signed his name (and that is another critique in it’s own right!)  I always smile in admiration as I think of what his life must have been like growing up in a different time, when going to school looked a whole lot different than it did for me. (Did his teacher ever get on to him for his manuscript? Did he always write in all caps?) It’s interesting which memories resurface after someone you love passes and the different values we place on those memories.

As I closed the lunchbox, jolted back to the present by my pending piles, I placed Charlie, Snoopy and DAD in the “keep” pile.

Today, March 1st, is my dad’s birthday.  He would have been 88 years old. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!

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8 thoughts on “Finding Dad In My Lunchbox

  1. What a nice remembrance on his birthday! I appreciated your thoughts on handwriting. Handwriting brings forward strong memories for me and I hadn’t thought about the history of each style and the schooling behind it. Thank you.

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  2. Happy birthday to your dad! Wonderful surprise, finding him and those memories lurking in the kitchen. I have terrible pack rat tendencies – everything has a memory associated with it, so everything stays. You have such vivid memories… you are lucky!

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  3. What a precious post! I lost my mom three years ago next month. I miss her like crazy! For Christmas, my sister in law gave me a necklace with her name scripted in her hand writing! I was reduced to tears! She taught preschool, so her handwriting was always perfect! Such a treasure to find something written by the ones we love!

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  4. I really enjoyed reading your slice. Maybe I can relate to it so deeply because it is so familiar to me. I have little piles of clutter everywhere that I dread going through because I know each pile contains many journeys into “keep” or “discard” piles and many trips down memory lane.

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  5. Your post caught my attention, since it was about a memory of dad. My dad has been on my mind a lot lately, he passed away 21 years ago for me. You really did a great job on using vivid verbs and adverbs. I am glad you found that treasure and the lunch box made the keep pile.

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  6. So glad you found your dad in that lunchbox. I may have to do a post about my dad and a lunchbox, only it’s his lunchbox, not mine. Our memories are precious, and become more dear as the years move on. Hope you can share this post with others who loved your dad.

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  7. I had a Snoopy lunch box, too! Thank you for taking me back to my first grade classroom and the memory of being so happy to take my lunch to school. What a great remembrance of days gone by. Happy Birthday to your dad!

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