The word “kitchen”, was scrawled on the box with thick, black magic marker. I knew it was likely filled with dishes, pots and pans, or other chachkas from Moms place. As I pulled it down, and peeled open yet another box from the storage unit, my suspicions were confirmed. There were white Corelle dishes, with the gold flowered pattern around the edges, a half a dozen sturdy glasses that used to hold Billy Bee honey, a few antique bowls, a selection of mugs that came from various university and college campuses, and pieces of dinnerware from Steinbergs, given away with the purchase of groceries decades ago. They were all nestled neatly in the box carefully wrapped with old newspapers from 2009. The headlines read of earthquakes overseas, riots in the U.S., and opinion pieces on the death of cultural icons, Michael Jackson, and Farrah Fawcett.
A short, sturdy orange mug with brown, and red flowers on it grabbed my attention. It was Dad’s. He used this mug on a daily basis. I can see him sitting in his spot at the white arborite table in the kitchen, his thick finger, looped through the handle, and his other large hand holding the cup close. It held every liquid choice including bitter tasting Maxwell House, instant coffee that Mom made him daily before he went off to work, bubbly Pepsi, that he regularly had with dinner, and cold milk, he drank every night before bed. It was always by his side.
It was the day before Fathers Day in 1971, and I hopped on the bus to Billings Bridge, then an open air mall in Ottawa South, to wander the stores. I remember vividly saving my nickels and dimes for that perfect gift for my dad. I usually picked up a ghastly polyester tie with blue and red diagonal stripes, or a chocolate brown brocade design and once, a plain black background with a white fleur -de- lis print. Other times I bought him the same old blue or white collared and cuffed dress shirt, usually purchased at Ogilvy’s, for $9.99. He would always smile, as he gently unwrapped any little weird oddity I gave him. Whether it was a tie, a key-chain, or a sweater, my dad would switch out the old for the new, or put on the item right away, and model it. This time, it was a find from Woolworth’s. The mug was bold with bright colours, a great shape and cost a measly dollar or two. It was “modern”, and “cool”, and I loved it, and I was sure he would too.
The next day, I was excited for him to open the little cardboard box. I recall, he seemed quite pleased with this new mug. He poured himself some milk, then sat himself down at the table to enjoy it. One thing was certain, my Dad was always grateful for any, and all gifts. He was a kind, considerate gentleman, and appreciative of the little things in life. He would marvel at the item’s beauty, or usefulness, thank me profusely, and we’d share a hug.
I was happy to find the little orange mug in the storage box, and it quickly went into my bin of items to take home with me from the locker. Dad passed away in ’97, and I still think of him most evenings, when I pull the mug off of the shelf to hold my herbal tea, a glass of milk, or sometimes a splash of wine. My finger slips through the handle, where his was, and I hold it close with my other hand, as he did. I curl up in my chair, with this mug, and my book, and often think that perhaps he would be happy to know that it’s still getting good use.