File Under “D” for “Dad”

Posted September 7, 2013 by jimhigley


I sometimes wonder what stories my own children will share about me long after I’m gone. You know – the stories about “Dad’s” funny traits, habits or tendencies. Quirks. I’m on a mission to leave them plenty of choices.

My own dad left me a multitude.

Like always betting on the number “5.” It was his tip-of-the-hat to his five boys. And an excuse to gamble, I think.

He was also a stickler for arriving at an event, party, meeting or gathering precisely at the start time. Not a minute early. Not a minute late. One of his many fine qualities that didn’t pass through this son’s genetic make-up.

And he developed a late-in-life affinity for laundry. Obsession might be a better word. I have many a memory toweling off after a shower – with my dad waiting on the other side of the bathroom door so he could wash my once-used towel. Somewhere along life’s journey, he established very strong feelings about dirty towels. A quality that drove me a little nutty at the time.

Now I’d give anything to hear him waiting for me on the other side of that bathroom door.

He liked order.

And nowhere was that so evident as in his den. This was the one room in the house that was his and his alone. A pre-historic version of a modern-day man cave. Dad never shut the door to his den, but when he was in there – paying bills, reading the newspaper or a book, or organizing piles of paper – my brothers and I knew to stay clear.

Center stage in the den was my father’s desk. An enormous, solid oak, roll-top beauty that my dad purchased for $50 from the old county courthouse. It was a judge’s desk – a good seven feet long.

It was an organized guy’s fantasy land.

Behind the rolling door was a mind-spinning collection of cubbies, drawers, shelves, nooks and crannies. And my dad had a place for everything. I know this partially because every cubby, drawer, shelf, nook and cranny had a label – sporting a word (or some seemingly secret code) in his own handwriting. Each label slid into a tiny metal frame secured to each cubby, drawer, shelf, nook and cranny with two tiny screws.

I don’t think those labels ever were changed his entire life.

And while I was told, as a child, to never get into Dad’s desk, of course I did. On a few occasions. Knowing what was behind and inside those drawers and doors was far too tempting for this lad. But there was nothing in any of those secret slots of great interest. Just a collection of papers and envelopes. Nothing magical.

But there was one thing. It was behind a little door on the right side of his desk. It was a photo of Dad and his mother taken when he was a toddler. And with it, he kept a card from her funeral. Her name was Rose and she died when he was twenty or so. The little space with a tiny door, on the far right side of his desk, was where he kept these two items.

A place of honor.

And while I’m pleased to say that my “snooping in Dad’s desk” days didn’t last very long, I’d take a peak behind that little door every so often. Even as a young adult, home for a visit.

So many things in life change. Yet there was always a bit of comfort knowing that my grandmother’s picture – and memory – were right where they should be.


This memory is brought to you through my partnership with Kimberly-Clark during the months of September and October. It’s part of their Pick Up the Values Program– providing tips and ideas for parents to stretch their budgets.

Today’s Pick Up the Values Tip for Stretching Your Budget is one my dad would love: Buying staples – like paper products and non-perishables – is a great way to save money. But do yourself a favor an invest in convenient, easy-to-access storage systems to store your purchases. Inexpensive shelving units or in-closet storage units will help you see your inventory, keep your inventory from getting damaged and better manage the timing of replacement purchases!”

Be sure to stop by the Pick Up the Values Facebook Page for more tips and conversations!

Rest assured, while I’ve been compensated by Kimberly-Clark for this story, the memory, and belief in their product is as real as it comes.