Simple answers are the best

Published 5:29 pm Monday, November 24, 2008

By Staff
My son had no idea that the answer he gave to a simple question would bring up so many memories and a rush of emotions.
During one of our recent trips to drop Landon off at school, I scanned by a radio station that had already begun playing Christmas music. I didn't stop the scan and let it go on to something else. But, as those stations kept skipping by, the music stirred a question I thought I'd present to my 9-year-old.
I asked him if he had any ideas for something we could get his dad for Christmas. The answer he gave with very little hesitation was a logical one, considering his father's habits. He answered that a big pack of handkerchiefs would probably be the best idea. Larry, if you're reading this, I'm sorry to spoil the surprise.
The emotion his answer elicited from me completely caught me off guard.
As a child, I was asked that question by my mother and had to decide what kind of gift I would put under the tree for my father. The same task was thrust upon me when birthdays and Father's Day rolled around. I can't recall which holiday I got specific gifts to honor my daddy, but I do remember the expression he had when he opened them.
One particular holiday, I think it was Christmas, I went shopping with my mama and we ended up at one of the dollar stores that were in business in the mid-1960s here in Brewton. I distinctly remember finding an iron skillet that was divided into eight wedges. I realize that probably doesn't sound very special to most of the people reading this, but to me it was perfect. My daddy loved the crusty edges of homemade cornbread and often would break off the wide ends of the wedges my mother cut the skillet of cornbread into just so he could have the crusty parts.
On the day my daddy opened the gift I knew he was happy. He may not have known exactly what was in my heart and on my mind when I picked out the gift, but he made sure to let me know how much he liked the gift.
Another time, I made a selection of another odd item most children wouldn't consider for their father. The gift I chose was perfectly logical in my mind and would make something nice for my father. In the local dollar store (yes, we all shopped there) I found a package of two plastic sandwich cases. Not fancy, just plain old white plastic - not the fancy Rubbermaid or Tupperware kind, but the cheap see-through kind.
My idea was that since my daddy worked at Container (now known as Georgia Pacific) and had to carry his lunch to work every day, this would be perfect. The sandwich wouldn't get crushed or smushed and would stay nice and fresh. You have to remember that most sandwiches were still being wrapped in waxed paper in 1967, so this was a new idea and approach to lunch packing.
After giving my daddy such “wonderful” gifts, I got a little weary of making decisions on my on. He had countless packages of handkerchiefs (which he used every day) and a boat load of socks through out the years. I'm sure he was as tired of them as any father has ever been, but a child didn't know.
At some point I began asking my daddy what he wanted as a gift for Christmas. Without swaying or thinking, he would say “Just get me a sack of marbles.”
What a crazy idea that was. Why in the world would a grown man need a sack of marbles? I thought I'd show him and grant his wish.
The first time he opened the gift and found a sack of marbles, I remember getting a chuckle as a thank you and the marbles went into the pile of socks, handkerchiefs and other gifts presented on the holiday.
Ensuing holidays brought about the same answer to the same question I asked time and time again. The suggestion my daddy gave me for a gift soon turned into a joke. Over time, I think I gave Daddy about six “sacks of marbles.”
I didn't realize exactly what they meant to him until 1990 when my parents house burned. It was a total loss with very little salvaged from the heap of rubble that remained when the firefighters left.
In my parents' bedroom, Daddy kept his gun case in the far corner. The case had a drawer along the bottom designed to hold bullets and other gun accessories. To my surprise, when we reached what was left of the cabinet, there were marbles all around the area. My daddy was a little upset when he saw that sight. All those marbles I had given him were now scattered in a useless pile of sadness.
I still think about buying a sack of marbles every Christmas, just to perpetuate the joke I shared with my daddy. I know I won't be able to give him a sack of marbles this year. He died in 1992. This year will be 16 sacks of marbles I owe him. No, only 15. I made sure he had a sack of marbles to take with him on his journey into eternity.
I wonder if my son might think getting his dad a sack of marbles for Christmas would be funny?
Lisa Tindell is the news editor for The Brewton Standard. She can be reaced by email at lisa.tindell@brewtonstandard.com.