Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Flashback: Sunglasses Repair

In her comment to my previous post, Myrna wrote of our father repairing her husband's glasses, leaving a lump of solder on the nose piece. Maybe he preferred to just leave the lump there. Here's why.

At an earlier time, he soldered together a (broken in half) pair of sunglasses for me. I was home for the summer, from my first semester at BYU (the one when I stopped playing chess and reading science fiction, so that I could actually get decent grades).

After soldering, there was a lump of solder on the nose piece. He took it out to the shop where he used his electric grinder to grind it down, and I tagged along. After some work with the nose piece at the grindstone, it looked perfect to me, but he must have thought it could benefit from one last polish. Unfortunately, his hand slipped just a bit and a small spot was ground onto the right lens.

He grunted something and handed them to me. I thanked him.

The elephant in the room was that, although now in one piece instead of two, the sunglasses were no longer usable. He was clearly uneasy about his mistake. I was upset that my prized (first pair I ever owned) sunglasses were ruined, but didn't want him to feel badly (after all: they were unusable before he started in on a repair). Neither of us were able to communicate with the other. We just went back in the house and the subject never came up again.

This situation still bothers me. And, I often remember it, and wish we could have expressed ourselves. It was typical of our relationship. I adored and feared him, and had no idea how he felt about me, although I suspected that I was a bit of a disappointment to him.

In his later years, when he could hardly speak, he would croak, "I love my kids." This was accompanied by a look that indicated that the listener was meant in particular.

One night, shortly after my son Andrew had survived a life-threatening and surgery-requiring intussusception, I happened to think of my dad. Then, it hit me like a wave, and I gasped for air: he loved me much like I loved my own son.

The last time I saw him alive, I was backing out of his long term care hospital room, focused on his black eyes watching me leave. I wish we could have talked more, and talked more openly.

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