1 March

You’re never too old to miss your parents. Even when you look in the mirror and think “I’m older than I ever intended to be. Who’s that?” it is not too late to wish you could spend some more time with your parents.

If my Mom were in Africa I would make her a cup of tea. She would be game for anything. She would love the birds, and she would love walking around the Kenyatta University campus. She would love meeting people and she would think everything was ‘unbelievable!’ She would love meeting my new Kenyan friends. Although I know she never, ever would have imagined me in Kenya, she would think this experience is just great. I wish she could be here. I would make sure she saw the giraffes. At the end of the night I would give her a glass of South African white wine.

My Dad would be wearing a floppy hat full of pins from around the world and he would be prepared. He would have supplies and gadgets and maps and would know more about where I am than I do right now. He would have on long sleeved shirts and be reminding me to wear sunscreen. He would love the history here and he would love the context. He would have American travel snacks and we would make great plans together for a safari. He would have a favorite Kiswahili phrase at the ready and he would play with the sounds of the words and make them funny.

I finished using a box of paper clips today that I brought with me. When do you empty a box of paper clips? Exactly. In Kenya I use them in the kitchen to keep every possible opening in any bag or box completely sealed so no ants or lizards end up in my rice or biscuits or cereal or sugar. I have paper clips on everything in the pantry. I had no idea that this is how I would be using these paper clips.

This now empty box of paper clips makes me think of my Mom. What a funny association. I took this box of paper clips with me when we cleaned out the family home in 2006 after the death of my Mom. It is almost 8 years older than when I took it. My Mom loved paper clips. In the kitchen there was not a scrap of paper that couldn’t be improved by clipping another scrap of paper to it, often a post-it that wasn’t so sticky anymore, with someone’s name, or a date or some details with a paper clip. Her wall calendar was a symphony or paper clips. When I think of my Mom I think of paper clips.


If you are from Buffalo, New York you will appreciate this. The box of paper clips was purchased at Sutherland’s for 23 cents (regular price 29 cents), an office store so long out of business I can only guess the age of the box. The design looks to be 1980’s to me. It is probably older than the students I am teaching.

I am my mother’s and father’s son. I have purchased a new box of paper clips in Kenya; be prepared is not just the boy-scout motto. It is a way to live. The new box cost 42 Kenyan shillings.

It’s nice to have memories of my Mom and Dad with me in Kenya.

This entry was published on March 1, 2014 at 6:04 am. It’s filed under Culture, People, Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “TO MOM AND DAD

  1. Beverly Croskery on said:

    What a beautiful tribute to your parents. It made me think of mine. Whatever age you are, you can always miss your parents. I can still hear my Mom laugh. It was big, explosive and joyful. I love your use of paper clips.

  2. Betsy Bressette on said:

    Richard, I so loved this post! You made me cry today…memories that will always dwell within our hearts. Our parents are some of the greatest people we have been blessed with! Thank you for your thoughts my friend. Love you!!!

  3. Richard, I could picture both of your parents as I read this, and it made me miss my own so much as well. My mother would have sent you to Kenya with a lifetime supply of twist ties!

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