My grandfather had a heavy pewter desk in his bedroom. At which he could be found all the time, glasses low balancing checkbooks, cutting out articles, or working out numbers on his tiny calculator.
As a little girl, I would sneak into his room while he was outside to pilfer a pink eraser because it looked like gum.
This denizen of work was a measure of being grown.
There were things in that big silver tank that kids didn't need or even recognize:
-butter tubs of paper clips
-sharpened pencils all facing east
-envelopes fastened together with thick rubber bands
-heaps of papers separated by tabs in the heavy drawer I could only open halfway
As a kid I can remember hiding love notes in the top drawer. When they were discovered, sometimes days later, he would find me somewhere in the house and ask, "Is there a love-mouse in this house?" and I'd laugh like it was the funniest thing anyone could ever say.
As a teenager, I would leave a quick note about where I was going to be that day and probably nab a paper clip from his desk as my absent-minded souvenir.
As a college student, I would steal off with one of his black army-issued pens with the smooth black ink.
As a teacher, I would ask if he had any extra file folders I could borrow. He always said yes.
Now, as a mom, with him being gone for over a decade now, I hoard this little butter tub of thumb tacks like they are the last ones on earth.
Because to me, they are.