March 2, 2012

stuck between a rock and a sickle

Do you remember the chicken I'm stuck with til death do us part? Well, I'm also stuck with a rock and a sickle. (They may not live with us that long, but for now? For now I'll keep them. They make me smile and shake my head nearly every time I see them.)

I'm not sure if dad was trying to say he loved us and didn't know how, or if he just wanted to de-clutter his yard a bit, but like the chicken, the sickle and the rock were "gifts" he gave us a long time ago.

The rock isn't a rock, now that I think about it. It's actually a large, lumpy ball of cement with smaller blobs of colorful who-knows-what mixed in. It's bigger than a bowling ball and weighs more than a Volkswagen and, just so you can get a very clear picture of what it looks like, we call it The Barf Rock. It lives in the flower bed in front of our house.

The sickle is just an ordinary, antique sickle; wood, metal, dull blade. (is that what you call the part of a sickle that cuts the weeds or harvests the crop? A blade?) Whatever. You get the idea and you now know I have one. Unlike the rock, we've never named the sickle. It has given us permission to hang a wreath on it during the Holidays, but otherwise the sickle just sits there, next to the front door, unadorned and un-named, quietly minding its own business.

I truly don't understand why my dad gave them to us. Even the way he gave them to us puzzles me.

He lived about 6 hours away so we didn't see him very often. One weekend we drove up to his house, spent a couple days visiting and then got ready to head home. My dad waited until we were almost pulling out of the driveway to give us each of those strange gifts.

We had 2 little boys, one still in diapers, when he gave us the rock. The boys were in their car seats, squirming, giggling, yelling, fighting, crying and already asking for drinks of water; the diaper bag was stuffed in the back seat between our sons, along with toys, snacks, and our suitcases. We stood in the driveway hugging dad and discussing when we'd see each other again when suddenly he looked away. Dad pointed down at the rock and said, "There. Take that home with you."

Oooookay. One small hernia later, it too was loaded into the car.

He did the same thing when he gave us the sickle after another weekend visit. He waited til the boys and all our junk were stuffed into the backseat, pointed at it, and said, "There. Take that home with you." My dad wasn't the type of man you could argue with, (especially if you wanted to win) so we didn't try. We shoved the sickle in the trunk and brought it home.

I'm not sure what other dads give their daughters when they want to say, "I love you." And maybe dad wasn't trying to say that at all? Maybe he waited til we were gone, went into his house, poured a glass of lemonade, sat down, put his feet up and said to my step-mother, (with a huge grin) "Well... I just got rid of the rock and the sickle! Feels good, doesn't it?"

The sickle is something I enjoy. I love antiques and that certainly is one. I'm not at all embarrassed by its presence on our front porch. But that rock? The Barf Rock? It's ugly. And it looks like barf. Sometimes I want to hide it, because it does embarrass me, but I just can't. I don't want to forget about it. It was a gift from my dad, no matter how strange.

Maybe, like the chicken, I should make a little sign and put it near the rock:

I am a cement rock that looks like barf. I know that and you know that. Judy wants you to know that while hideous blobs of cement are not her thing, I am. Her dad, for some unknown reason, wanted us to be together. He knew Judy would take good care of me and never let me go. Her dad is gone; he is safely Home, waiting for her to join him someday. In the meantime, she has me to enjoy: a large, ugly ball of cement. I make her smile and shake her head in amused confusion every time she sees me and, I remind her of her dad. I am both a mystery and a hug. She is happy to be stuck with me.

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