In the years that followed after losing my Father to cancer, I wanted to take stock of all the lessons that he had tried to teach me in life.
Did I say teach?
Drum into my head might be more accurate.
It took me years to remember what some of those lessons were.
Ten years later, slowly, very slowly one of the lessons has finally risen to the surface.
Today, as I took a newly purchased book out of my shopping bag, one of those lessons hit home as I remembered a similar scene with my Father.
The scene was of me coming home after my first day of school in grade two. I had just brought home several new school books which had just been assigned to me by my teacher. They included an elementary reader, math, and geography book.
My Father led me to the kitchen table where he had just placed my newly acquired text books. He had gathered a pencil, scissors, and ruler along with a large piece of heavy paper. His preferred choice of paper was usually a recycled piece of wrapping paper, a unwanted street map, or an old poster. However, I do remember times when a newspaper, or the funny papers would do in a pinch.
He would sit me down, and with pencil and ruler he began to measure and mark the big sheet of paper laid out before him.
With several long straight lines here and a couple of notches there he would then take the scissors and carefully cut along the pencil drawn edges. He finished off with two neat folds along the top and bottom. Then there would be another two more, one to the left and then the right sides.
We now had a book cover.
Father would then take the front cover of the school book and slip into into the neatly measured front flap. Then he would do the same with the back cover.
In teaching me the importance of these homemade book-covers, I learned many different things.
First, it taught me that books are to be handled with both care and respect. I still have books that Father gave me. The ones with these sorts of covers are still in their prime. The other books are not so lucky.
Secondly, it is indeed a noble thing to take care of something that does not belong to you. I was always proud to give all borrowed books back to the school at the end of the year, intact and with a minimal amount of blemishes.
Last, I learned that you can take something which is otherwise considered useless and unwanted and turn it into something with the potential to be both useful and meaningful. That accounts for the used wrapping paper, old street maps, and last weeks Saturday comic section from the newspaper.
And there you have it. It only took ten years to sort this particular lesson out, but it finally hit home.
I only hope I don’t have to wait another ten years till I figure out the next lesson.