• A sword, an abacus, a letter and a chair

    The sword lies on display on the mantel above the fireplace, a souvenir from Japan bought years ago during the war. The abacus on the bookshelf counts the years, 18 or so it will be in just one month. A letter folded up in the nightstand by the bed is quickly accessible to be read at any nostalgic moment. The old worn out patio chair sits uncomfortably out of place on the newly designed front porch.

    Just four items, worth a lot more to me than their actual monetary value, are all that I have left of what used to belong to my father. Though it’s been almost 18 years since he passed away and the items have become rusty, chipped, dirty or a bit faded, I am unwilling to part with them. They may appear to some to be items that should have been tossed out a long time ago. For me however, they are treasures representing much more.

    The sword was purchased years ago when my dad was serving in Japan during World War II. He was never really a fighter and would much rather opt out of a conflict whenever possible. He was a quiet, peaceful man who loved people and did his best to try to please them. If he really believed in something however, he was not afraid to defend it. Right or wrong, there were three things he always believed in: his country, his religion and his family.

    The sword — a reminder to stand up for what you believe in and choose your battles wisely. To know when to speak out and when to remain silent is a sign of true maturity and in site. (Unless you fall into the toilet in the middle of the night because some *#*! person left the seat up, it’s not worth fighting about — let it go).

    The abacus was also purchased while my dad served in Japan. It was once quite a popular tool used particularly in Asian countries to calculate mathematical equations. After returning from World War II my dad became an accountant. Though he really rarely used it as there were far more advanced and easier methods to calculate problems, he would always keeps the abacus on display at his desk. As a young child I was mesmerized by it and would play with it for hours. Moving the beads around in various positions, I could create my own unique designs.

    The abacus now sits on display in a bookcase at my home. An instrument mostly of the past, but a reminder that the past is not all there is and we should not get stuck there. The abacus may have a few chips and cracks, and a couple of the beads have fallen off, but you still have the ability to design your own personal masterpiece.

    The letter was written and sent to me by my father while he was away on sabbatical one summer when I was a teenager. He wrote of his love for me. I never doubted his love, as he had no problem showing me how much he showed cared, but I always appreciate that letter.

    The letter — a reminder to always let those who are close to you know you love and appreciate them.

    The chair my dad purchased around the time he found out he had lymphoma. He would sit out in the backyard to relax, enjoy a bit of nature and watch as the grandkids would play on the swing set and wait while one of us kids fired up the barbeque. He didn’t always have a lot of energy after his chemo treatments, and if you didn’t know him, you wouldn’t really know how much he was suffering. He loved being outside though, and he loved being with his family.

    The chair — a reminder that sometimes life sucks and gives you challenges, but always take time to relax and enjoy the things that really matter.

      • davidlacy

      • March 10, 2013 at 9:35 am
      • Reply

      Your best column to date in my opinion.

    • beautiful.

    • My dad’s birthday is today and he would have been 87. He died 10 years ago and I, too, have saved things for sentimental value. Loved your tribute.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • March 10, 2013 at 9:47 am
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      Thanks everyone! To the memories Madge!

    • I also have a letter from my dad. He seldom wrote so it was a special treat.

      • biographer4you

      • March 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm
      • Reply

      The past is always an integral part of our present.

    • beautiful, truly beautiful.

    • Very nice Mrs. Wyler. You dad sounds like a man’s man. I to brought home a weapon from the war, a Russian sniper rifle (WWII model) but I was so messed up I sold it for dope. I’ll always regret that but that’s the way it went for me.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • March 12, 2013 at 7:52 am
      • Reply

      Good memories of the past are the best! It’s hard when the bad past and the present start fighting with each other in my head. I have to keep telling the not so great past that “you’re not the boss of me” and remember the good times.

      Thanks Amy and Donald. Donald I really wish things had been different for you, but thank you so much for sharing your life and stories with all of us. You are an inspiration!

      • Maya North

      • March 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm
      • Reply

      Yeah, bad past and good past…that resonates. I am so glad you had a parent who hadn’t the slightest problem ensuring you knew he loved you. The chair, the letter, the sword and the abacus are tangible reminders–like kisses blown to you-now from him-then. It doesn’t matter if they are a little time-worn. That just makes them real, like the Velveteen Rabbit. XXXOOO

      • Norbie Kumagai

      • March 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm
      • Reply

      Hello Carolyn: I carry in the passenger side of my Honda CRV a pack of cigarettes & matches. When my friends see them they say, “I didn’t know you smoked!”

      As I share, when our Dad was diagnosed with cancer in August’07, we were constantly in and out of The U.C. Davis Cancer Center. He would always pause before entering to have a quick smoke; eventually as his health deteriorated, he would smoke in my Honda (I opened up the back hatch and rolled down all the windows) then we would wheel him into his appointments.

      Since his cancer spread so rapidly,this was simply to maintain his “quality of life”. We lost our Dad over The Thanksgiving Weekend that year; not sure what we would do now since The Med Center is a “smoke free complex”.

      Thanks For Sharing!!

        • Carolyn Wyler

        • March 14, 2013 at 8:36 pm
        • Reply

        Hey Norb,

        I had just started working at the Cancer center in July of 2007 and worked there for a couple years. I might have just ran into you or your father and didn’t know it. You are right, Ucd is a “smoke free complex” but people don’t pay much attention to it.

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