"Remember my old college suitcase?" my dad asked me recently. "I want you to give it to your cousin, Davey. He always loved it. Used to drag it around the house when it was bigger than he was."
Well, of course, I remembered the suitcase, but I wasn't at all sure that Dave would. The suitcase was older than me, needless to say, and the stickers on its side - "Ohio University" and "Phi Kappa Tau" were among my earliest memories. My dad took it on every business trip, and I remember it coming home festooned with tags from airports across the country.
When my brother, Bill, and I were at the house on Monday, I asked him if he could find the suitcase for me. Of course, he could, and soon he walked down the attic steps carrying the ancient, dusty suitcase. "Are you sure Dave will remember this?" Bill asked me, as he cleaned decades of dust from the leather surface. "Not at all," I replied, "but Dad wants him to have it."
As I drove home that day, I decided to give Dave a call. "Hey, I have a gift for you from your uncle," I told him. "Yeah, what is it?" "Do you remember his old college suitcase? He wants you to have it." I was totally unprepared for Dave's reaction. "Are you kidding me?! Really?! Do you know that the family story goes that I took my first steps towards that suit case? My first steps ever! I am so touched that he wants me to have that!"
"I didn't know, " I told him. I didn't know. And I don't think my dad did, either. But he certainly remembered the strong attachment he and his young nephew - and namesake - had shared. He gave Dave a gift that he may not have known the magnitude of, but that doesn't lessen its value. My heart sang as I drove the rest of the way home. By asking me to deliver his old suitcase, my dad gave me a gift, as well. The gift of joy. Thanks, Dad.