I held the wallet in my hand, having difficulty accepting why it was in my possession. I looked at the worn faux leather, thinking about the stories it might have about its previous owner. Have you ever thought about what your own possessions may reveal about you?
The edges were worn from pressure in being in the back pocket. I opened it slowly, not sure of what I would find, or even, what was worth keeping. There were various items stuck in the billfold and items in the card slots. Not surprisingly, no cash. A few IDs – retired military, drivers license. The last one, a work ID, initiated a slight pang in my heart. I remember the joy in his eyes when he had found this job.
The next batch of items consisted of medical appointment cards, insurance info and doctors’ business cards. My breath deepened while going through these. They represented years of pain that once was and pain that will always linger.
Then, sentiment. Worn around the edges, and slightly discolored in the center – A wallet sized photo of my siblings and I in our younger years. It was quite old. There may have been another photo or two, but I can’t quite recall. This one, I knew he held dear. It was the only professional photo we had ever taken, and was the only one we had done together. He was the one who insisted we do it. He was pleased with finding such a deal, and even more excited when the finished product was delivered. I imagine he took it out from time to time, just looking back and wondering where the time went.
The last item was hidden far deep in the back card slot: A carefully folded newspaper clipping, from an advice column. I slowly unfolded it, wondering why it was there. I read it slowly – it was about maintaining relationships, especially with your teenage children. Tears filled my eyes. That article spoke volumes about my father and his experiences.
I took the photo and IDs and placed them in a box. The article didn’t seem to belong there. Yet, it felt wrong to discard it. Eventually, I chose to hide it in a trinket box, and thought no more of it.
More than a decade later, I rediscovered the article. Hidden in the random trinket box, underneath small souvenirs from travel. I think again about the story it tells; a parent’s struggle and frustration? Perhaps curiosity or inspiration ? Maybe even weakness or a feeling of hopelessness? If anything, it was testament to his devotion and love as a parent. It exemplified who he was, and what he tried to teach us. Even in the most difficult of situations, he would not give up; he would find a way.
My young son sat next to me as I held the small piece of paper. “What’s that?”, he asked quizzically. I wouldn’t have been able to explain in a way that his preschool mind would comprehend.
“It’s a good memory. Something to remind us of someone who loved us more than we understood at the time.”
Without further explanation, I carefully refolded the article, placing it back in the trinket box. I can’t seem to discard it, and yet I choose to keep it hidden. I wonder then, what would it reveal about me?