Child's Bayshore Red, 9 1/2 M, B.F.Goodrich, PF Flyers
It is 1955. I walk with Dad down a tree lined street, on old broken
sidewalk, with tree roots stirring the sidewalk pieces. We are going to
get new sneakers for me. I am exited as we enter a giant building with
wooden floors (Sears & Roebuck). We pass through tall canyons of white
enameled rectangular objects, which are washing machines, that tower
over me all in a row on either side of the aisle. We arrive at the shoe
department, and I select a pair of red sneakers. We walk home, I in my
new red sneakers, feeling like superman. Dad carries my old shoes in the
box from my new sneakers.
It is 1999. Dad died two years ago. I decide to examine all the
stuff, mostly electronic parts, that he stored in the garage cabinets
over the car. After sorting through numerous boxes of parts, I see a
small rectangular box that looks like a miniature shoe box. It has
printed circuit boards in it now, and was relabled with different
contents several times. I look at the end of the box, and the original
label says "Child's Bayshore Red, B.F. Goodrich, PF Flyers, 9 1/2 M".
It is the box from my new red sneakers! The box is somewhat faded, since
Dad saved it, to store stuff, about 44 years ago.
The feeling of being with Dad when I was age 2 or 3 entered me, for
a fleeting moment in a tenuous form, when I realized what the box was.
The Skeleton Tree
When I was out in the yard, to mow the lawn, and trim the front and
rear hedges, I leaned a rake against the old orange tree which I have
called the "skeleton tree". On an impulse, I placed my hand against the
trunk and pushed. The tree moved easily. When I completed the other
tasks, I pushed the tree down. The roots had rotted away. Then I got out
the electric chain saw that Dad had, and I chopped the tree into foot
I thought of how the tree was once so tough and resilient. Now the
roots were rotted out, and the wood was dry and easily cut. This tree
was dying in early '97. I was in the yard with Dad, and he wanted to cut
it down. I suggested waiting to see what growth came with spring. With
spring, on April seventh, came Dad's death. In my mind, I linked Dad
with the tree. I found today that Mom did too. She said it was like
saying good bye to Dad again, when she looked out and saw that the tree
When I pushed the tree, and found it so yielding, I knew that
the time for the tree to be removed had come. I thought of how robust
Dad was for so many years, until his time came. Then, with just a little
push from fate, when he was by himself one night, he was away from
us, gone but for our memories and dreams.
A Visit to Dad One Night
I find myself walking down a very large hallway inside a huge
aircraft. I know that I am going to see Dad, in the place of the dead.
The place of the dead turns out to be in the tail section of the
fuselage of the giant airplane. I move onward, noting the flat mat
finish of the unornamented gray metal walls. Rooms of various sorts open
off of the hallway. Finally I reach the big double doors that are the
entry way to the place of the dead.
As I enter, I can feel a strange feeling of dislocation; the laws of
physics are different here. The rules that I am familiar with do not
apply here. I hear a voice, over a public address system, which sounds
a little familiar. I realize that it is the voice of Grandfather Morris,
Dad's father, calling for Dad's brother, Uncle Henry. Movement in my
peripheral vision draws my attention to the corner of the hall by the
big doors. It is Henry, facing away from me, dressed in chino slacks and
a muted tartan shirt, that are increasingly clearly not a three piece
suit. I say nothing, and move farther into the place of the dead,
looking for Dad. A few people I do not recognize are entering and
leaving the hallway from rooms on the sides. I'm not sure
who or what I may encounter.
After a while (Have I been here forever?), I come upon Dad,
standing by a long, narrow, unfinished wooden table (I know it is of
his manufacture), by the side wall of the hallway. Dad is wearing a
sport shirt and slacks that change back and forth into a three piece
suit continuously. Dad is everyone who he was simultaneously. Time
happens all at once in the place of the dead. We talk without speaking,
and without knowing exactly what we say to each other. I pick up a small
tray, with some unidentifiable, odd, small tools and hardware items on
it, from the table. The tray and its contents, as well as Dad, have been
waiting there for me for all time. They are given me, to take with me,
without it being said with words. I just know they are now mine to take
with me. It is time to leave the place of the dead. I speak to Dad,
saying that I hope that there is a lot of interesting stuff like this
here that he can enjoy. I turn away from Dad. I can feel that it is
definitely time for me to go.
Knowing that the rules are different, and much surer of myself, and
the way, I rise into the air in the hallway, assuming a horizontal
position with my hands forward. I fly swiftly, retracing my way through
the hall to the two big doors that are the boundary of the place of the
dead. Once beyond the doors, the rules apply, and I settle to my feet,
walking back towards the front of the huge airplane. I can feel that I
have something valuable that I did not have before.
The giant airplane keeps flying, wherever it is going. I don't know who
is piloting it, or where its destination is, but I am not particularly
concerned, knowing as I do that I am on it.
This was a dream.
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