My maternal Grandfather passed away when I was 13. My family is from the south, so to me he was always “Granddaddy.” He was the man who taught me how to whistle, wink and untie any knot. He was tough and tender at the same time. He was in the Navy during WWII. He was City Commissioner of his small Georgia town. He bought my Grandmother jewelry every year for Christmas. His voice squeaked when he talked. I wear his mother’s diamond in my engagement ring.
At some point along the line, I was given a pocket knife that belonged to my Granddaddy. It’s sleek and silver and is engraved with his initials (D.L.C.) and a date (4.28.78). I don’t know when he received it, or what it was in honor of, but this lovely knife has become a cherished possession. I need to remember to ask my Grandmother the significance of the date while we’re still lucky enough to have her around.
Due to lack of use over the past 35 years, the lovely silver pocketknife has tarnished and locked up. The two slender blades no longer unfold, locked in place by rust and neglect.
This weekend, I decided to do what I could to restore its luster and functionality. Armed with WD-40 and Barkeepers Friend, I rubbed and polished and finessed the tool. Slowly undoing decades of non-use, the tarnish was scrubbed off and the joints eventually creaked.
As I was working to loosen the smaller of the two blades, my persistence triumphed and the small arm swung open, passing over my thumb as it extended.
It happened in an instant and before I realized it, the white bathroom sink was splattered with blood. I looked down at my thumb and saw the slice, fresh and deep from the blade of my Granddaddy’s knife. I quickly rinsed it, elevated my arm above my head and wrapped my thumb once the bleeding slowed.
It would be easy to look at this incident as an accident. The casualty of trying to clean off an old knife. But to me, this is more than a mishap. I choose to see this as a lesson from my Granddaddy: When you pair sharpness and momentum, you will leave a mark.