I’ve lost my father’s old baseball mitt. I’ve looked everywhere, torn the house apart, dug through closets, the garage, the attic, dusty boxes.
If I weren’t sentimental, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I am. Objects that would’t sell for a blessed dime at a yard sale mean the world to me.
Take, for instance, Granddaddy’s union card—stamped on a piece of depression-era leather. Sometimes I carry it in my pocket, I don’t know why. Or my wife’s University of Alabama ball cap, which rides on my dashboard. The quilt Mother made me in first grade.
And Daddy’s ball glove.
He bought it in high school, and it was the last glove he ever owned. Woven leather, dark brown, smelled like axle grease. It was just an old faded thing, but it was among the only things I had left.
In my childhood, I saw that mitt every summer. We’d play catch until dark. When I got older, he threw harder. By age twelve, I had to wear a sponge beneath my glove to keep from fracturing my hand.
I don’t know why I’m telling you this.
But it’s more than his glove. The day after someone dies, you inherit a whole mountain of their belongings. Everything. A man’s whole life, handed down to an unsuspecting young fool who doesn’t know what to do with any of it.
I inherited Daddy’s gun collection, radial saw, blow torches, ratchet sets. Old beer coolers, watches, a leaky lawnmower, his welding clothes.
He drove a white utility truck, with a long bench seat. A Ford. I grew up in that thing. If I concentrate hard enough, I can see the vinyl seats, so hot in the summer they’d scald the backs of your thighs.
We rode to church in that dirty vehicle. He’d park out back, so no one saw him step out of it.
“Don’t get mud on your Sunday clothes,” he’d say while I crawled out. Inevitably, I’d gallop into church with a streak of red dust on my britches.
We rode that truck all over. To the creek, Dairy Queen, or the supermarket. And to baseball practice—when he’d toss the ball, shouting, “Ground-ball to first!” I’d lob it back hard enough to dislocate my cotton-picking shoulder. Then, he’d yell, “Good hustle, Speedy!”
God. I’d almost forgotten he used to call me that. Speedy.
The older I get, the harder it is to remember his face.
I wish I had that glove.