The Measure of a Man

   I wasn't looking for memorabilia; I was just helping my mother.  While she was downstairs making soap with my daughter, I was upstairs going through drawers and putting things into bags for moving.  What was unwanted was going into a bag to take to my church.We have what is called a blessings table where we put things we no longer need and take what we can use.
  When I first came across the nail clipper, my intention was to take it to the church.  But for some unknown reason, I stuck it in my pocket instead.  After coming home, I put it into a container on my husband's dresser where he collects coins, keys, and, yes, a nail clipper.  Though he already has one, sometimes it gets borrowed and misplaced, so my intention was to provide an extra one for those occassions.
  As soon as it left my hand, though, I knew.  Knew that this was no ordinary nail clipper.  This was what I would be keeping in memory of my dad.  In going through my mother's drawers, I came across a very old glasses case.  My suspicions were correct.  They belonged to my mother's grandmother, with whom my mother spent the first ten years of her life.  My mother always talked about her with affection.  And so, after all of these years, not only had she kept these glasses, but she intended to take them for this move.
   So, why a nail clipper?  My dad always had one in his pocket.  Sometimes, when I am out doing my weekly grocery shopping, I wish I had one handy.  That seems to be the time I'm most likely to tear a nail.  But somehow, it has never become a carry along for me.  Why it was for my dad, I have no idea.  I used to think every man carried one in his pocket.  Instead, my husband carries a pocket knife.  Which is handier, I don't know, but it has always seemed to me that my husband carries the wrong item.
   The nail clipper that I found is bigger than the standard size.  I had never seen him use it, or carry it, but it seems perfect for a keepsake.  It embodies the essence of my dad; larger than life.  Isn't that the way it is with everyone's dad, for better or for worse.
    My dad.  Certainly the size of this particular nail clipper doesn't represent my father in size.  At best, before the shrinking of age began, he was about 2 1/2 inches shorter than the average American man.  It wasn't until my husband came into the picture at 6 ft. 1in tall, that I really began to question that.  Up until that point, I had never thought of him as being short.
    In my mind, he was very "big".  Big because he could do anything, or at least that's the way I saw it.  I have memories of the addition of an upstairs to our home.  My parents had started out with just a little cabin, but one would never guess that, to look at it now.
    Big, because I remember the magic he did by keeping our cars on the road.  Seems he was always working on one.  Big, because whatever it took to keep our family financially afloat, he did it.  He always held a full time job, but in addition to that, we raised chickens, he fixed lawn mowers (tried to start a business), he once held a part time job pumping gas, and later worked for the golf course.
   I have never been attracted to a man who is not a "man's man".  I can't  even imagine being married to someone who doesn't know how to jumpstart a car, change a tire, or mix up his own cement.  Probably wouldn't happen.  My dad is my measuring stick, so I found it surprising when he would often ask my husband questions.  Why would my dad ask another man anything?  This increased my respect for my husband.  If my dad looked up to him, thought he knew something he didn't know, that made him pretty special.
   My dad isn't carrying a nail clipper these days.  I don't know when he got out of the house last.  He scuffles around the house all day in pajamas, and his oxygen goes with him.  He's small and frail and dependent on my mom to take care of him.  But that is not the dad I will remember.  The dad I will remember carries a nail clipper in his pocket.
   Happy Father's Day, Dad!


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