May 10, 2010

The Walking Stick

by Andrea Tadpole
Written Christmas 1999 for my Dad

Dear Dad,

I have been thinking about what I wanted to write you for a long while now. The present I bought you is more symbolic than anything else, however I hope you use it all the time.

My mind is flipping from scene to scene; each scene is a memory from my childhood. Remember all the car wrecks I had and the knock-down-drag-outs and yelling matches we had when I was a teenager? How could you forget, right? Then there are other memories, the ones I hold the very closest to my heart, the ones I wouldn't sell for a million dollars. One is of when we lived in Okmulgee. It was Christmas time and you bought me some kind of thing that we made cars with. You and I would sit for what seemed like hours and pull these cars along an assembly line as we built them. Another was of me in great anticipation of your return from your business trips, wondering what charm for my bracelet you would bring me this time. Probably the fondest memory of all is the night you took me out on a "date". I think I was probably ten or so. I remember I dressed up real pretty and mom did my hair. You took me to Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips. I felt like the luckiest little girl in the world. Do you remember remodeling the house on West Eighth Street? We put the paneling up in the den and redid the plumbing. I had so much fun with you then. I remember when you walked me down the aisle the first time. I was seventeen, terrified and excited all at once. You looked so handsome in your tuxedo. I remember being so totally captivated by you. You were always my hero, even when I was a teenager and too damn stubborn to admit it, you were my hero.

I have other memories too. These are of me as a woman. You were there for me when no one else wanted to be when I went to treatment. You helped me take care of the kids when I was in college. Another memory is that of when for about a year or so I refused to talk to you. I remember you told me that when I was ready to talk to call. The only regret I have is that it took me so long to get ready. I remember the night I finally called and we talked for at least a couple of hours. You told me you could not change the past, you could only start right where we were and try to make it better. I will forever cherish every time you have given me my sobriety birthday chip in AA. I will especially remember this past year, my thirteenth birthday sober. Every word you said about me is forever etched on my heart. I'm still captivated by you and you are still my hero, you always will be. Someplace deep down inside of me I will always be your "little girl".

So, I said all of that to tell you this story. I heard a preacher teach about the symbolism of Moses and his rod or staff (I call it a walking stick) in the Bible. In Biblical times, a man took his walking stick with him wherever he went. It was a permanent part of him. Since he did not have photographs and most people could not read or write he would log his memories on his walking stick. Each time a significant event occurred, be would cut a notch in his walking stick. So, one could say that a man's walking stick represented his life. A man was married ... add a notch; his father died ... add a notch; his son was born ... add a notch; and so on.

When God told Moses to drop his walking stick before Him, He was really asking Moses to surrender his life to Him. When I heard about this, I started thinking about all the notches in your walking stick. I knew I had to get you one. When I was at the mall, I found one. It was tucked away in the back of the rack and it wasn't quite as pretty as all the other ones. It looked a little banged up and bad knotholes or "notches" all over it. It reminded me of our lives together - a little banged up and rough around the edges - yet strong enough to withstand the test of time. It was perfect!

So you see, my dear daddy, every time you look at this walking stick and you see the notches, pick one out and think of me, your "little Andy". Call to mind a memory. Remember both the pleasant and painful. I believe that we would not be where we are today without going through it all ... good and bad. Most of all remember the day I gave you this gift. Remember that I love you more than I know how to show and never forget that you're still my hero and always will be.

Your Loving Daughter,

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