Tucked behind my driver's license with my real age and fake weight and the photo that, sadly, looks just like me, are three folded bills - two 20s and a 10 - the same, but different, $50 that my dad gave me about 10 years ago as tuck-away money, a little security blanket for those too-frequent times you need to buy something and your wallet is empty.
I think of Dad when I am forced to dip into the emergency stash and I think of him again when I replace the money. The original 50 disappeared about 9.9 years ago, replenished, on a regular, persistent basis, by newer bills. I always replace them, partly because it's proven to be helpful numerous times, and partly because it is a link to a man who could not, for much of his life, enjoy the sheer luxury of having that much money that could stay out of the mainstream of obligations. The gift had this edge of irony to it, in a sense, and I think he sensed it, too, sometimes voicing that he wished he could have been more generous when we were children, handing out "unnecessary" money, but knowing, too, that we valued our parents for gifts far too many kids never received.
This June, Dad will have been gone for five years, remaining impossible to accept. Mom has been gone two months. He would be 94 and she was 93, due to turn 94 this September. They were married almost 70 years and had known one another for about 80 years when he died.
Her passing brought back memories of him as much as it did of her, not only for my sisters and me, but for so many others who knew them as a wonderful pair, surrounded by people who could be heard, laughing, crying out, "Oh, John, that's a good one!" or "Dorothy, how do you put up with this man?"
I said I had 50, but I'm actually down 10 bucks, as I write this. So, this week, I'll re-stash the balance to bring it back to the full amount, his and my 50, that I carry with me for convenience, but not really necessity, in a world of credit cards and ATMs, and, mostly, for the closeness I feel just by carefully folding as flat as possible a replacement bill and pushing it behind my license that bears both my name and his.