Charles Lamb would understand. He had dream children of his own. Our English teacher read his essay to us, and the toughest guy in class got tears in his eyes.
A lady I knew had a fight with her ex-husband. She was very petite, but she fought him off. "I didn't know how strong I was," she told me. She was afraid he would return. She had a basement door which was not secure. Would I put a chain on it? It was a simple job, drill a few holes, and mount a sturdy chain. She was relieved when I showed it to her.
Somehow I told her of my simple interests. I had just seen some foreign postage stamps of different types of dogs. Her daughter heard this. "Could you bring me some?" I told her I sure would and went on my way.
I returned for one more little task. I forget now what it was. Her daughter appeared from the other room. "Did you bring me the stamps?" she asked. I reached inside my jacket pocket and gave her an envelope of them.
She gave a little sigh of relief--more happy to be remembered than to get the stamps, I thought. Anyone who could forget her would be nuts. I thought of her divorced father.
She had a younger brother. Her mother spoke of him. "He's trying to put up an antenna," she said. I looked in on him to see him struggling with a kitchen knife, trying to pare back the wire's insulation. He was nervous as we talked, like he was unworthy of attention. After all he had been deserted by his father.
I returned on some pretense of helping, but really to see the kids. "I have some suprizes for you", I told them. "They're in my car trunk." I held up the key, thinking they would like to receive the bags.
One package was a new stamp album, with stamp hinges and some tongs. The other was a little metal tool box. Inside it was a soldering iron, some solder, and an adjustable wire stripper.
The antenna project had been abandoned. The wire was still there. I gave a little demonstration. "Start with a hole on the stripper a little larger than the wire. Then work your way down. And be careful which way you pull it. I slugged myself once when the insulation let go." I demonstrated, and for the first time saw a faint smile.
His sister was looking at the contents of her bag--a new stamp album, still sealed in cellophane. We opened it and laid it flat. "You may prefer animals stamps," I told her. "There are lots of stamps with animals." I had included a pack of the more common stamps, a little of everything.
Using the tongs, we spread out the stamps. I told her we never touch our stamps. "I like commemoratives, like the first Arbor Day." I licked a delicate hinge and pressed it on the album and the stamp. "They kind of stick up, but when you close the album they lie flat."
The evening approached. The mother wanted to know if she should set a place for me. I declined and excused myself. "As for the things I brought, would you keep them for me?" I asked. "I don't have much room and it would be better if you kept them."
The little lady married a psychologist. I am told the whole family is doing fine. The kids have a father now. I wish they were mine.