The Little Sword

I know not where it was, when new, but as the story goes, the little sword was my grandfather’s.

I never met him, but only heard tales grand and small, happy and sad, and that his life was very good. He was a fine man, a father, a husband, a soldier, a doctor, a hero, loving in the way Italians do.

I wish I had know him. I wonder if I have any of his character. I hope I do.

He must have used it, often and with ease, opening a letter or two. I like to think he did.

I noticed it on my father’s desk one year when I was small. The scabbard was still intact and with it. A small chain dangled from it as I recall. Oh how I wanted such a thing.  A little sword to thrill the mind of a child and to use it. To open a letter or two, if one were to come to me. I did not ask my father for it, I knew where he had gotten it and that was all.

Many years later, I too had become a father and had boys of my own. Our lives were grand and small, happy and sad, but very, very good. I found myself visiting my father one fateful fall day. His strength had waned and yet he still looked sound and whole. His hands, and face, the same, his eyes, green and kind and loving- always caring.

“Joe come up stairs to my office for moment.”

“Yes, sure Dad.”

We walked up the stairs. He still could. He went into a little office he had in the eave of his home and brought out the little Sword. The one I longed for- so long ago and now, owning anything was farthest from my mind.

“Come sit Joe.”

He dropped his capable frame on a small love seat and sank into it for the moment. He did not look up at first. I sat in a wooden chair beside him. He was quiet, contemplating what to say, holding the small object in his large hands. I knew he was going to give it to me. He would no longer need it- soon.

He glanced to me just for an instant. His glances were often short and yet I so longed for them. He turned away and back to the little sword.

“This was my father’s-“

His face crinkled and he cringed,  several tears fought their way to the surface, but he was strong. He pushed his feelings back deep, deep inside. I would never see them again.

“That’s enough of that-“, he said to himself and to me. He smiled again.

“I want you to have this now. My father gave it to me. I want to give it to you.”

I was touched. I had wanted it so long ago and now in a time when nothing physical, no object of desire really mattered, he handed it to me. I reached out and took it slowly from him. He watched it leave his hand into mine. He knew soon would come.

I held it and looked at the wear. Many a letter had been opened by his father, by my father and perhaps a bit of tinkering too, using it as a small tool at times, when needed. It was beautiful.

He slapped his legs and stood and that was that. I reached to hug him and we did, for a moment not two.

I know not where it was, when new, but as the story goes, the little sword was my grandfather’s, was my father’s and now it was mine too.

The little sword, sits on my desk now, a desk I built in a place far, far away.

I get letters once and while, and I open them.

I reach for the blade and feel the love of both men. One I knew of and the one I knew.

Perhaps one day, my sons or grandsons will sit in a wooden chair beside me.

One can only hope and that is all.

As we walked back down stairs-

“No scabbard Dad? I gotta have the scabbard.”

He smiled and laughed…

“Swords are not meant to be in a scabbard Joe.”

“Right. Right. Send me a letter one day, okay?”

I’m still waiting, perhaps today-