Wednesday, October 01, 2014

G'Bye to an Old Friend -- Peter Black

We were together for thirty-seven years. He came to me from Africa, although his origins were European. We became good friends. He never asked me for anything; however, I did my best to take care of him and treat him well. But as for my friend, he helped me out of many a scrape and tight corner over the years.  He was always there for me.
Our relationship came to an end rather abruptly, and it was entirely my fault.
My wife and I presented ourselves at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, bound on our recent trip to the UK. We’d checked in our main luggage, and in due course it was time to put our cabin baggage through the security check. May’s hand tote passed through the X-Ray and she sauntered through the walk-through scanner.
My wheeled mini-luggage tote was next and disappeared into the shrouded scanner. The checker staff motioned me to proceed to the walk-through scanner. In the meantime my sleek new tote hadn’t come along the conveyor.— Wonder why it’s taking so long? While I was threading my belt back through the loops of my pants a security guard approached. In his hand was my faithful old friend—my Swiss Army knife, which had more than a dozen functions.
Credit: Victorinox
Similar, but mine had more features.
A day or two earlier, our luggage cases were lined up on the spare bed, lying open, like giant clamshells. I intended to—and thought I had—put the knife into a case that would be going into the regular check-in luggage.  But no, I’d inadvertently put it in my new clamshell tote. The officer asked whether we had family in the airport to see us off, who could have kept the knife till we returned. We didn’t. So that’s it. Confiscated. He went off with my dear old friend in his hand.  Thirty-seven years . . . gone.
Hey, no big deal. At least I wasn’t arrested  . . . and it’s only a fancy knife—for cryin’ out loud! Thirty or forty bucks could likely replace it. What a stupid mistake, though.  To be sure, I will miss it for the keen scissors that were ideal for trimming my hangnails and nipping off unruly hair ends that refused to cooperate in my personal grooming.
What made that knife so special—even more so than it’s many functions—is that my brother-in-law Bill sent it to me from Africa for Christmas in 1977. He and my sister and family were in Kenya on missionary service. I’m sure they sacrificed to provide the gift and mail it to me. My relationship with the giver and the circumstances under which it was given heightened its value to me. Besides, I’d hoped to pass it along to one of my grandsons.
Human relationships and friendships can be all too easily forfeited. Carelessness and inattentiveness can rob us and others in our lives of companionship and relational well-being. 
Sometimes though, we have no option but to let old friends go their own way and leave them free to develop new friendships and succeed in every good way.
I hope that whoever now has my S.A. knife 'friend' will appreciate and care for 'him' as well as I had done, and that they will never use him to harm anyone, but rather to help them.
Peter’s new book, “Raise Your Gaze . . . Musings of a Grateful Heart,” was released in August.

Peter A. Black is a freelance writer and columnist in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing). Finalist – Word Alive Press. ISBN: 1897373-21-X. The book has found a place in various settings with a readership ranging from kids to senior adults.

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