September Daily: Dad’s Turtle

by Wendy Copley on September 2, 2007

My Dad made this turtle when I was little — since it’s dated 1973, I’m guessing it’s safe to say I was still a baby. It was always in our house when I was growing up. It was on the bricks and boards shelves first, later on top of a speaker in the living room and then as time went by it made it’s way into the den.

When I got my first apartment after college, it felt totally empty. I had my own set of bricks and boards shelves in the living room populated with some books and a few candles, but the place felt a bit short of personality. I started thinking about the stuff in my parents’ house that made if feel homey. On one level, I knew that it would take time — years even — to assemble my own collection of knick-knacks and meaningful little objects but I was also lonesome for some of the things that made my parents’ house feel like home to me. I knew that their knick-knacks were their’s, but I also felt like they were mine too in a way. I specifically kept thinking about this turtle — they’d lived with it for twenty-some years, but so had I. And twenty-some years was my entire life. I really wanted that turtle in my living room.

When I went home for Christmas that year, I asked my parents if they’d mind if I took it back with me and they kindly agreed to let me have it. And I sure have liked having it in my living room these last ten or fifteen years. First on the bricks and boards in my living room, later on my desk in my office and now on a high shelf back in the living room.

For now, Wyatt is a bit too jumpy and rambunctious for this, but I look forward to the time when I can put it down on a lower shelf where he can look at it more easily. When he can run his fingers over the shell, poke the turtle in the eyes and grow to feel like it belongs to him when really it belongs to me. And when he gets his first apartment, if he still likes it and misses home, I’ll pack it into his suitcase at Christmas-time and let him take it with him because it will be part of his memories too.

But if it’s not something very special to him, I’ll just hang on to it, because it is something very special to me.

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