As I keyboard this column I can see a ring on the third finger of my left hand. I have been wearing it for over eleven lustrums. It is a plain gold colored band that has been enlarged once to compensate for my fat fingers. It is a symbol.
That ring is just a piece of metal, probably 99.9 percent brass or bronze, with a goldcoating on it. In reality it is not worth very much. BW purchased it in Ingall's Jewelry Store, Worthington, Indiana, in 1958 for several dollars nothing compared to what it would cost today. It is a symbol and symbols are priceless. It is a symbol of BW's love and her commitment to share her life with me. We made one life where there had been two. Later on two babies came into our lives and shared the commitment.
Worthless metal? Not hardly.
We have several documents in a bank vault: Birth certificates, diplomas, discharge from Navy, marriage license, college degrees, deeds and titles. They are symbols that lead through the Interstate Highway System that is our life.
I have two metal toolboxes and one wooden toolbox on my workbench. They are battered and scarred by the passage of time. At auction some unknowing bloke would probably buy all of them for less than ten dollars. That may happen some time in the future but for now they are priceless symbols of my past.
The wooden box is a carpenter's toolbox with a rope handle that my dad used back in the 20s and 30s. I have some of his tools. When I grasp those tools and use them I feel close to him again. I still feel the warmth and power of his massive hands and arms around me.
I remember his patience as he let me drive nails with the hammer when I would hit the nail about once in three tries with sparks flying. I couldn't drive a nail into a snow bank.
He would chuckle and say, "Anybody can drive a straight nail boy, but it takes a carpenter to drive a crooked one."
I have two of his handsaws. He could saw a perfect straight line but when I tried, the cut had as many curves as the road to perdition. He taught me the importance of plumb walls, square corners and level floors. He also taught me that my life should be plumb, square and level. I cherish that box and his tools.
When he passed I received his metal toolbox that he carried for years when he worked at Crane and Bloomington.
That box includes his chalk line, a metal square, carpenter's pencils, two levels, brace and bit, power saw and drill and various hand tools. The boxes and contents are cherished mementos of his life. A quilt of memories warms me when I think of him and how he was the architect of my life. Memories crowd into my mind like a fat girl crowds into yoga pants.
Such are the symbols of life.
Larry Vandeventer. Go to my website -- Larryvandeventer.com -- and purchase my books. I grew up North of Calvertville and Graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State 4 Times. Contact me at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656.