Select Page

“So, Dad: GM went bankrupt.”
“Doesn’t surprise me. That’s what they get for making crap for decades. They were basically just a finance company and it caught up with them finally.”
“But the government bailed them out. . .”
“Unions. Goddamn unions.”
“Yeah. Ford’s still doing ok though . . . ”
“I’m glad to hear about that. We always had good luck with Fords. Well, except for that last one you made me buy . . . I was never . . . ”
“MADE you buy? You were the one trying so urgently to trade in our old car that had only 50,000 miles on it . . . ”
“That’s when you start rebuilding them.”
“Not then. Not in the 80’s, even. Maybe some maintenance.”
“Money down the toilet.”
“So that Taurus wasn’t?”
“You seemed to enjoy it. I didn’t know how we were going to pay for it. But I wanted it for you.”
“You didn’t stick around to enjoy it much. I guess it ended up being for me. I thought it was for you. It was basically a loan. . . ”
“No matter. What happened to it?”
“After you died it kinda went into a deep depression. Suddenly didn’t get more than 12 miles per gallon. Mechanics couldn’t find the problem. Mom and I joked that it didn’t have anyone around with whom it was astrologically compatible anymore. We let it go back to the finance company, then traded in a few other of our cars for a truck. I used it for the business you left us . . . ”
“Oh, that. How did that work out?”
“Convinced me never to own my own business ever again. I sold off the contracts and went to college.”
“Oh, I’m glad to hear it did something for you. So, business major?”
“No.”
“Accounting?”
“No.”
“Then. . . what?”
“Oh. . . philosophy . . . with  . . . ”
“PHILOSOPHY?”
“Yeah. . . but . . . ”
“What the hell can you do with that? Goddamn it to . . . ”
“It’s served me well.”
“How?”
“Something you taught me.”
“What?”
“It’s all about talking. Life is a talking thing. And persuasion. If you can talk to someone, find common ground and persuade them, nothing stands in your way.”
“Well. . . you always did talk a lot . . . too much . . . ”
“You talked to me all the time. Our long rides in the car. You talked to me about everything . . . almost. . . ”
“Well . . . yeah . . . ”
“And you know what I got out of those conversations, Dad? You know what’s really stayed with me?”
“What?”
“Something that you broke down and told me and Sis one day in McDonalds. You know how we’d go to McDonald’s and you’d use your fancy ballpoint pen to draw things on napkins? Sometimes they were diagrams of things you wanted to make for the house, other times sketches of things you remembered from your youth. You’d make these little feathery strokes in blue ink with the pen so it wouldn’t rip the napkin. It was like you needed visual aids all the time to express what you had in your mind. So this day–I think it was at the McDonald’s on Glendale and 43rd Avenue–you were telling us about the little anvils and hammers you had made to promote your band back when you were on Mutual Radio in the 40’s. They said ‘Lloyd LaBrie Orchestra” on them. Very sharp-looking things. So you draw this anvil and hammer and tell us about it and you were so fond of the thing that you designed back then and right then all the memories around it came through to you all at once. And right there in the restaurant on one of those hard little yellow swivel chairs they used to have–you broke down and laid it all out for me.”
“What did I say?”
“You said — through tears– that when it’s over and done, all we have left are memories. That’s all. And about a year later you were gone. I told mom about it after you died. She got angry at me. She asked why I hadn’t told her about it back then. Well, the truth was that I was kinda embarrassed about it–happening in public like that. I was only 19. Sis was only like 15. But also I was scared. I kinda sensed what was coming. I couldn’t face it. Mom probably would have liked to know that you were on your way out. But I don’t think she could have faced it, either. You kinda left us in the lurch. . .”
“Yeah . . . well. . . you know . . . you do what you have . . . ”
“Anyway, so that statement stayed with me. That part about ‘all you have left are memories’. So I took that as a gem of wisdom from you as you lay dying, as it were. I decided to make memories, and to not worry about things like business degrees and learning to count paperclips and what have you. So I thank you for that.”
“Yeah, well . . . <<cough, cough>> . . . So, did you ever find the anvil or the hammer? I thought there might have been a few left in the stuff from Minneapolis.”
“Oh, I think they’re still out there. I keep thinking that one of them’s going to turn up on Antiques Roadshow or at some thrift store I stop at in Iowa or something. But really, it doesn’t matter. We have the memory.”
“Yes, yes we do.  . .”Image