When I was young, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my dad; he went to college all day and worked most of the night. It was really wearing him out, but he had himself, my mother, and four children to support.
I used to play with the wooden toys my dad made for us. When he had time, he made such things as blocks, wooden animals, and puzzles. But my favorite was the little knife he carved for me from a small piece of wood. It wasn’t using the knife to fight an imaginary foe that intrigued me so much—it was the fact that my dad had made it himself, just for me and no one else.
I was so proud of my dad. I thought there was nothing better than someone who could turn an ordinary piece of wood into something as magnificent as my little knife. I would just sit and hold it in my hands, looking at it and thinking about the time he spent making it for me.
Years later, when my dad was out of school and had a good daytime job, I was able to spend a little more time with him, but the value of that knife never lessened.
One day I walked outside. What I saw sent a flood of memories into my mind. My dad was sitting on the steps of our house, a pocketknife in his right hand, and in his left a piece of wood slowly taking the shape of a little knife. I could see little slivers of wood fly as he whittled and whistled a happy song. He turned to me and smiled.
Before I knew it, I was sitting right next to my dad, a pocketknife in my right hand and a piece of wood in my left. Twice as many little shavings of wood flew as my dad taught me how to carve a little knife by myself. Mine didn’t look nearly as good as his, but it was okay. My dad was sitting next to me, and that was all that mattered.
Every once in a while, I looked up at him, all smiles, to compare my knife with his, as he kept carving the wood and whistling his songs. Once he caught me looking at him and gave me a big smile and winked at me. That made me feel good because he would wink at me when he was really happy. I winked back.