Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Note to Dad Lost and Found

My wife's dear grandmother Margret VanBenthuysen Newton passed away just a couple of years ago. In her last years she moved from her home in Lakewood New Jersey to be closer to Tara's parents in Hamilton where they could care for her. I recall the day we all helped her move out of Leisure Village. There was nothing remaining in the dusty one car garage but rubbage - a few boxes of books which nobody wanted to claim. I love dusty boxes of long forgotten stuff from garages, attics and basements. I may just find mildewy cooking books - but I might find momentum too.

That sultry evening in our dusty garage in Malvern we spent hours and hours going through the boxes and tattered bags. What we found was a portrait of Marget's life detailed by books on gardening, stitchery and clockmaking ... the dated newsprint that wrapped items all the way back to the 1940s ... the endless array of notes and remarkable items which were stowed in the pages of the books.

While Tara put supper out for the kids and eventually tucked them into bed I carried precious finds into our kitchen where Tara poured over them. We found my father in law's Bible, dozens of beautiful hardback books on from obscure authors such as Henry Charlton Beck (The Jersey Midlands), D. W. Hering (The Lure of the Clock), and Katharine Morrison McClinton (Collecting American Glass). We found love notes to Alfred and from Alfred (great grandfather James Alfred. We found annotated magazine clippings. We found small things at the bottom of the boxes and bags that Marge and Al probably thought were lost. Some boxes seemed to be packed during prior moves all the way back to Piscataway.

In the pages of one book, we found a manually typed document folded once, the author unknown.

This was written about the greatest boy in the world --- YOUR SON. We think you will enjoy reading; maybe you will even want to save it to read someday when the boy has grown to be a man like you.

"Between the innocence of babyhood and the dignity of manhood we find a delightful creature called a boy. Boys come in assorted sizes, weights, and colors, but all boys have the same creed: To enjoy every second of every minute of every
hour of every day and to protest with noise (their only weapon) when their last minute is finished and the adult males pack them off to bed at night.

Boys are found everywhere --- on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around, or jumping to. Mothers love them, little girls hate them, older sisters and brothers toerate them, adults ignore them, and Heaven protects them. A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with buddle gum in its hair, and Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket.

When you are busy, a boy is an inconsiderate, bothersome, intruding jangle of noise. When you want him to make a good impression, his brain turns to jelly or else he becomes a savage sadistic, jungle creature bent on destroying the world and himself with it.

A boy is a composite --- he has the appetite of a horse, the digestion of a sowrd swallower, the energy of a pocket-sized atomic bomb, the curiosity of a cat, the lungs of a dictator, the imagination of a Paul Bunyan, the shyness of a violet, the audacity of a steel trap, the enthusiasm of a fire cracker, and when he makes something he has five thumbs on each hand.

He likes ice cream, knives, saws, Christmas, comic books, the boy across the street, woods, water (in its natural habitat), large animals, Dad, trains, Saturday mornings, and fire engines. He is not much for Sunday School, company, schools, books without pictures, music lessons, neckties, barbers, girls, overcoats, adults, or bedtime.

Nobody else is so early to rise, or so late to supper. Nobody else gets so much fun out of trees, dogs and breezes. Nobody else can cram into one pocket a rusty knife, a half-eaten apple, 3 feet of string, an empty Bull Durham sack, 2 gum drops, 6 cents, a sling shot, a chunk of unknown substance, and a genuine super-sonic code ring with a secret compartment.

A boy is a magical creature --- you can lock him out of your workshop, but you can't lock him out of your heart. You can get him out of your study, but you can't get him out of your mind. Might as well give up --- he is your captor, your jailer, your boss, and your master --- a freckled-face, pint-sized, cat-chasing, bundle of noise. But when you come home at night with only the shattered pieces of your hopes and dreams, he can mend them like new with the two magic words --- "Hi Dad!"
I don't ever want to find the author. I will never Google these idioms. I like to think that this is about Tara's father and grandfather, or about my father and me, or about my sons ... or about me ... or you.
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