A Keepsake

“C’mon, pops. Let’s go.”

“I’m comin’, I’m comin,’” I said, moving as slowly as I could manage. It was time to go, time to move out and go to…

I shuddered.

The Home.

I’d bought my house fifty years ago, not a year after my first son had been born. And all it took was three oversized men to tear everything out of it and throw my entire life into the back of a truck.

“I said c’mon!” my son wailed. Still as impatient as he was when he was four, forty years ago.

I stopped next to the ramp leading up to the cavernous truck where my life was headed and leaned on my cane. I was wearing an old suit. Might as well impress some people on this momentous day of the next—and final—stage of my life.

My son threw his hands up in the air and growled. Luckily, I always had the old guy defense of pretending I never heard him. People would just give me sympathy. “Oh, you poor man,” they’d say. “It must be so hard.”

Not that I was interested in any post-menopausal women pining over me and my ailments. Besides, where I was going, my kind would be a dime a dozen.

The boxes kept coming. Most had been packed by the movers, some had items poking out of their tops. I had taken great care in the boxes I packed myself. I knew which one I was waiting for.

“Listen, old man,” my son said, much closer now, and also friendly despite his choice of words, “I know this is a tough day for you, but we really do have to go. The movers don’t need our help, the home is expecting you, and I have things to do, myself.”

I continued to ignore him adamantly. But since there had been no way I might have missed that last part, I nodded to acknowledge him. He walked to his car, which was still running, and leaned on the roof of it just in the corner of my vision.

One of the movers carried by a large, unopened box containing a plastic Christmas tree. I had refused to take it out, insisting instead to get a real tree every year. There was no other way.

Other boxes the movers had packed passed by in a steady march, and just as I was thinking about how much shit I’d had and how little of it I’d used, I saw what I needed.

I raised my cane with an impressive deftness in front of the box. The man stopped, startled. I was afraid he’d drop the box, but then again, he likely would have left it to be crushed inside the truck anyway. “Give me that, son,” I said. I hoped my look was one that conveyed I wouldn’t let him say no. He just shrugged and set the box on the ground in front of me.

I knelt, groaning with my joints, and opened a flap. It was a tea set, one which had caused a ruckus after Millie’s death when it suddenly disappeared. It was her favorite, and the initial rumors were that it was to be an inheritance. But no one had been given it at the reading of her will.

That’s because I had stowed it. It was a stroke that had taken her from me, but I wasn’t going to let her go completely out of my life. I promised myself I would never forget her, even if dementia took my mind from me.

I picked up one particular cup and held it to my face, breathing it in. It was old now, but I could still smell her in it. I lifted it by the handle and looked at the perfect lipstick stain that had been left that day. Her last cup of tea. Our last cup together. I pressed my lips lightly against the pink impression, and held the cup to my heart. We were together again. Anything new didn’t matter as long as we had each other.

I felt my son’s hand at my back, soft and gentle. He had seen everything. He knew. Such smart children. They got that from their mother.

I reached inside of my suit jacket and dropped the teacup in a deep pocket and turned to my son. “Well, what the hell are you waiting for?” I said. “Let’s get a move on!”

They of course got their impatience from me.

Originally published November 2013 on StoryWrite. Edited June 2017.

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