After my dad died last summer, I retrieved a couple of small mementos from his house.
One was the carved wooden fish above. I bought this fish in Ghana, when I was traveling there in 1994. I was in a little town called Winneba, on the palm-fringed coast, and I'd come down with a fever that eventually got dramatic enough to make me go to a doctor. Here's my journal entry from Oct. 21, 1994, which tells the story of the fish:
Just stayed in bed all afternoon. I’ve started a cheesy Clive Cussler book, which was keeping me pretty well entertained. And I had a visitor – a local boy named Daniel who is totally nice! I am a sucker for this kid – I don’t know why. He introduced himself yesterday and then showed up today with two little carvings to sell – a frog and a fish. I, being a sucker, bought the fish for 1,000 cedis ($1). I figured Daniel needs the money a lot more than me, and if I don’t keep the fish I’m sure I can give it to someone. We also exchanged addresses – I gave him my DeSoto address because I am suspicious of this whole address exchange thing that kids here do – I mean, WHY? Do they sell them or something? But I will send Daniel a postcard.
As it turned out, I did send him a postcard, and he sent me one back, if I recall correctly. But we didn't stay in touch beyond that. I gave the fish to Dad that Christmas, and he kept it on a shelf above the television in the living room for 22 years.
I wish I'd bought Daniel's frog, too!
My dad used to "collect" pigs. Or, more accurately, a collection of pigs was foisted onto him by other people. I don't remember how it started -- I think Dad told someone that he liked pigs, and they gave him a figurine of a pig, and pretty soon we all were giving him pigs. (Dads are hard to buy gifts for, so when a "hobby" like this arises, everyone latches onto it.)
As I recall, my stepbrother and I gave these two pigs to Dad when we were about 12. I bought one and my stepbrother bought the other. We got them at a now-defunct gift and housewares shop at University Square Mall in Tampa, next to what used to be Robinson's department store. I don't remember the occasion -- a birthday? Father's Day?
A few years ago, Dad cleaned out the pig collection. He had about 100 of them, I think, and he donated many to Goodwill. He'd set one of the pigs above aside to keep, and was going to give the other away. I told him he had to keep them together -- they're a set, after all!
When he died, with my stepmother's blessing, I tucked these little pigs into my suitcase. They now sit on our dining room windowsill, basking in the sun.
I have a few other items that belonged to my dad, most notably Blackie. But the fish and the pigs seem to represent the intersection of our two lives -- they were his, but they were also part mine. I think of him every time I see them.