The other day I found an old zip lock bag that I had forgotten about in my closet. Inside this quart sized storage bag were an assortment of various knickknacks and accessories my grandmother gave me in 2006 that once belonged to my late grandfather, who had passed away earlier that year from a stroke. My grandmother had cleared out some of the smaller items my grandfather collected over the years, and I gladly accepted these mementos as a reminder of his memory.
Into the storage bag I stuffed various ties, tie clips, a few rings, and one or two nail grooming kits he had kept around his dresser. Now, I don’t dress up very often, so I kept these items in the bag for many years, never having the opportunity to use them. Because of this, the bag was regulated to a bin on the top of a shelf in my closet and out of my memory for some time.
The other day my wife decided to reorganize the closet and eliminate the years of clutter to make space for some of her things. I found the bag sitting on our bed, waiting for me to rummage through it and get rid of the things I’d never use. By now I had made peace with my grandfather’s passing, so I didn’t feel guilty putting some of the uglier ties in the give away pile.
As I dug around the bag, amongst the heavier, metallic items I found an old pocketknife. I pulled the knife out and examined it. There was nothing overly special about the knife, but since it once belonged to my grandpa, I had an instant attachment to it. The body had a black, wooden cover with bumps and grooves along it, and on the side hid two blades one could pull out and use for various cutting purposes. The blades themselves had dulled from time, but not useless.
Growing up, I never owned a pocketknife, unlike most of the boys I knew. Granted, I didn’t have a need for one, but I remember looking at theirs with a twinge of envy. The first pocketknife I ever owned and used was a groomsman gift I received a few years ago. As much as I love that one, as soon as I found my grandfather’s, I knew I had to put it to use.
I own quite a few tins of pipe tobacco that are in cake and plug form, and lately I’ve been wanting to pick up a knife for the sole purpose of cutting them into flakes, making them much more manageable to rub into my pipes. I knew as soon as I found the old pocketknife that this was my solution.
Taking a tin of C&D’s Kajun Kake, which was a mess to break apart and rub out, I placed the cake on its side and began cutting off a flake. Though dull, the blade made a nice flake right down the edge, and was the perfect size for my billiard. At once, I knew my new find was what I had been looking for all this time.
Why bring this up in my first proper post? Well, my grandfather was never a smoker in his entire life, and not a single member of my extended family smokes a pipe. While some pipe smokers have cherished memories of a pipe smoker in the family, I never had those wonderful memories. The only times I recall seeing pipe smokers growing up were chance encounters when going about town. As I cut my cake tobacco in a flake, I wondered if my grandfather would approve of me using it in this way.
I came to the conclusion that, while he may not have been happy for me to use his knife for this purpose, at least I’m using it in some fashion. Every time I pull out the knife, my mind will come back to him, and the lasting impact he had on my life. He was a good man, worked hard for his family, and worked hard with his hands. When I use it, I honor his memory and think of him, and everything he did for me.
So, thank you grandpa, thank you for being a good man in my life, and a strong influence in my upbringing. I can only hope my grandchildren will think of me in the same way I think of you.
Till next time, happy lunting to you!