Wallet

It's a hot summer day. It's lunchtime. I am eight-years old.

My family sits around the table in our dining room. Some of us spent the morning picking tomatoes. Some  of us worked in the shade of the trees packing tomatoes to be sent to market.

The tomato sandwiches have been eaten. The plates have been cleared. The watermelon is being carved. My siblings and I sit discussing that far-off futuristic thing -- the year 2000.

Karen: I'll be 26!

Jane: That's nothing. I'll be 29!

Karen: That's, like, almost 30!

Jane: David and John will be 22. Can you believe it?

Grandpa A has been listening patiently to all of this. He wears a big, fleshy grin.

Grandpa A: I'll be long gone.

He smirks. I laugh.

I look around. No one else is laughing.

I look back to Grandpa, he's still smiling. I continue to laugh. Only he and I know he'll be around forever.

********

In the days after Grandma D's funeral, we were all asked to go through the few things that remained of her possessions. It was amazing to see how little was left. A houseful of things decreased a few years ago to an apartment's worth. Later, it decreased to a room's worth. Even later, a smaller room.

I'm not terribly sentimental about stuff. I was happy to see she'd kept a painting of Henry's and some of the letters I'd sent her.

There, in the pile, was something I didn't expect. A man's wallet. Brown leather, well worn. I picked it up. It belonged to my grandpa.

It's been on my dresser ever since. I've felt a bit guilty, for some reason, for having it. Maybe one of his kids should have it?

I've gone through it a couple of times. I'm always struck by how normal it is. Just a wallet. Evidence of a guy who wasn't planning to die. It contains his birth certificate, his hunting license (expired four years before his death. Naughty, Grandpa), his Social Insurance card, the business card of one of his sons-in-law, a newspaper clipping from when my Uncle Jim made the dean's honour role at university.

Normal stuff.

As I rushed out the door yesterday -- late again for my bus -- I grabbed it. I don't know why. I shoved it in my back pocket.

Such a familiar thing, a wallet. Intimate. It's with you all the time.

"Oops," you say. "Forgot my wallet. I've got to go back for it."

I kept it with me all day. I reached for it several times, thinking it was my own wallet. It surprised me four or five times.

No magical moments to report, but it was nice. Nice to spend a day bumping into a guy I haven't seen in 23 years.

5 comments:

auntie said...

Yup, there he is again.

You were right: he'll be around forever.

auntie said...

"normal stuff"
Just had another thought--no credit cards, right?

Visit IA said...

Alas, the wallet has fallen into exactly the right hands.

Visit IA said...

To announce Betty was pregnant with Aaron, I slid a tiny note across the table to her Dad. When he passed away many years later, that same note was tucked away in his wallet.

Words Words said...

auntie -- no, no credit cards. But an early prototype bank card. Care to guess the PIN? Also, all three of his priesthood cards -- including one signed in 1945. And, the newspaper clipping of the real estate listing of what would become their Wheatley house.

Visit IA (Mr. Dean's Honour List himself) -- I carried a note in my wallet for about 8 years. Now it's tucked away somewhere I'll probably lose it. I should put it back in my wallet.