The year I was born my Daddy lost his legs in the mill when the power suppressor kicked in after a short blackout and the blade sheared off the bolt and flew sideways ripping both his legs off. I had three brothers, 2, 3, and 5. Momma watched our foreman’s two toddlers to earn extra money.
We had no insurance but the community chipped in and bought us a two-bedroom shack on four acres by a creek that was in total disrepair. Local church members fixed up the place and Dad spent his time in his wheelchair splitting wood for our fuel and to sell. He spent his downtime listening to the radio and reading the Farmer’s Almanac.
Nearing our birthdays Dad would wheel himself, or have Momma push him, around the property to find just the right piece of broken branch, usually between six and twelve inches, which he’d sand and stain and notch in our age and that would be our yearly present which I looked forward to.
We kids would line them up year by year, each of us in a different section of the house and they would be our guns in cowboys and Indians, our fire hoses in Fire Fire, our ruler in our Teacher game, and many more things.
These dozen toys have stood the test of time and are ensconced in my den in a glass front case which I open every birthday and choose one present to keep out for the year. I hold it while I read at times or when I’m working on making a big decision. I even take it on business trips as a talisman and with all the belief I can muster in my heart. I believe that these early birthday presents have made and continue to make a difference in my life.
My siblings, on the other hand, are all-in dead-end jobs and loveless marriages and scoff at the idea that I’ve kept my presents.