Loving Things Equally

My father was able to love many things equally. He loved so many things that we had a two car garage that never had a car in it.

As a boy I would clamber around in the dark and dust and find things like ancient baseball gloves or WWII ribbons or patches. When I would trot something out, my father would tell me the story behind it, giving me glimpses into his life. The baseball glove for, instance, was his when he was young and athletic, wanting to try out for a team, but his father, my grandfather, who was a Methodist minister, forbade him because gambling had been associated with baseball and he didn’t want my father around it.

He still had his army uniform and mess kit from WWII, and he would tell me about his experiences of basic training and his different jobs as a staff sergeant. He was never in combat but saw a lot of the states by train while escorting AWOL soldiers back to their bases.

Each item had a story, even the old furniture of long dead relatives.

As he lay close to death in a hospital bed, he looked at me and said, “You know, I never got to clean the garage.” He was so sincerely regretful that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Now my garage is a museum of my past, my kid’s past, and, yes, even his past. I still have his uniform, some letters he wrote to my mother before they were married and his old slide projectors that he would use to torment us by showing vacation pictures on a sheet tacked on the dining room wall.

But you know, I can get a car in my garage-my wife’s!

—Robert Porter

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