The things people use on a daily basis mostly go unnoticed. A watch, knife, or Bible typically doesn’t have a lot of actual value. That is until the person who owned them is gone.
Then the item goes from being a tool to becoming a treasure.
Some of my most valued possessions wouldn’t bring much on the open market. But to me, they are priceless.
When they were given to me, I was grateful, but not appreciative.
I am now.
Growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, both sides of my family lived nearby. There were a few aunts, uncles, and cousins who lived elsewhere, but for the most part, most of us were a walk or short drive away.
My dad’s father ran a blacksmith shop, and my mom’s dad worked at a nearby ammunition plant and mowed yards. I learned a lot from both. Much of what I learned came from the tools they used.
My grandfather used a forge and anvil to repair and make many things, both for our family and others. My other grandfather had one of the first riding lawnmowers I ever saw. Unknown to me at the time, he used it to cut grass at no charge for women in our church. And he always wore one of his signature hats when he did.
For a young boy, these were things that were necessary, so they generally weren’t that impressive. Well, maybe the riding lawnmower was, but you get what I mean.
When I was 15 my grandfather who was a blacksmith died. The anvil fell silent.
My uncle and dad worked to keep his blacksmith shop going on weekends, but they had full-time jobs and honestly, it just wasn’t the same.
They were using the same forge and anvil my grandfather had used, but when customers came, the scenario was different.
But the items he used were worth keeping.
When my grandmother made the decision to sell the items in the shop and tear down the building, my dad and uncle kept the anvil and other items that symbolized their dad.
When my mother’s father passed, she asked for his hats for the same reason.
My father loved knives and timepieces. I say timepieces because he loved wristwatches, pocket watches, and mantle and grandfather clocks.
When I was in the 11th grade, he gave me a pocketknife. It was a Barlow and not particularly valuable, but it was special to me because it came from my dad.
He gave me the knife a year after his dad had passed. Maybe that was the impetus. Maybe he just thought I needed a good pocketknife. Either way, I was glad to get it.
A few years later, he gave me a pocket watch that had belonged to his grandfather. A few years after that, he gave me the anvil. My mom and dad bequeathed me their mantle clock.
When my dad passed, I got all of his watches and pocket watches. At the same time, my mother gave me her father’s hats.
I use the anvil and forge. I carry one of the pocket watches when I’m not wearing an old Hamilton wristwatch.
I’d wear the hats if they fit, but it’s just as well. They’re old and probably wouldn’t hold up. They’re fine where they are on a shelf.
My mom gave me a cast iron skillet that belonged to her grandmother. I use it frequently.
There comes a time when we all have to pass the torch. Sometimes the torch is wisdom, other times it’s an item. We can pass things when we’re still here, or after we’re gone.
My grandson is having a birthday soon. He’s a little older than 11th grade, but it’s not too late for him to get a good knife. The Moore Knife Company makes it. No relation. I think he’ll like it.
When I’m gone, I’ll make sure he gets some of my items, and some of his great grandfather’s.
Things only matter when there’s value attached to them. I value all of the things that belonged to those I loved. I hope he does too.
©2022 John Moore
John’s new book, Puns for Groan People, and his books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on his website – TheCountryWriter.com, where you can also send him a message and hear his weekly podcast.