My dad collected matchbooks. He didn’t buy them or trade them with other collectors. But he’d pick them up at restaurants, hotels, and businesses that offered them as promotional items. So each item in the collection has a direct connection to a trip he took or event he attended. After dad died, mom went on a cleaning binge and was ready to throw the entire collection out. The matchbooks were all stuffed haphazardly into several ziplock bags, and she didn’t know what to do with them.
I offered to take them home. I’m as much of a packrat as my parents – what was one more bag?Besides, I just didn’t feel right tossing something that apparently meant something to him. I’m not sure what he had planned to do with them, but I promised myself I’d do something. Maybe I’d tackle a project I saw on HGTV where they took the matchbooks apart, laid them flat on a board, and then covered them with a coat of varnish. Or maybe I’d keep them intact and display them in a shadowbox.
Yesterday I had one of those rare days when I didn’t have any appointments or commitments. I took the bag of matchbooks out and started to sort them. It’s been four months since dad left us, but I still felt him at my shoulder as I handled them. I wanted to turn around and ask him about some of the interesting ones. About half the collection was from their trip to Japan – beautifully designed pieces of art with elegant characters I can’t decipher. Another third were from other trips and various casinos he and mom liked to visit. And the rest were from local businesses and attractions. There were four from my stepdaughter’s wedding fourteen years ago.
I separated them, took out the duplicates, put each category in a separate bag, and put them away again. I’m going to need a bigger shadow box than I thought. But I had a wonderful time connecting with dad again, seeing the world through his eyes. He had a full, productive life that I can only hope to emulate. It’s a big, wonderful world, and his matchbooks were his way of bringing pieces of it home with him.
I know I promised pictures, so here’s one – these are the dishcloths I made during my “Senior Road Trip” from my last post.