|Steven Guy DeRemer|
I was given such a gift, it was small, well used and broken. And I nearly cried that it was given to me, the depth of the meaning is too much to explain how it touched my heart and yet it needs to be recorded and celebrated in some way. I can't let the importance of this gift be lost.
My wonderful hubby and I went to Texas this fall, to again connect with my DeRemer family. The family of which I write was found only two and a half years ago, I feel as if I have known them forever, I have been so blessed by their love and acceptance. I'm meandering again...... One evening in November, we sat around the table with my brother Mike and his wife Jeanne, just talking and catching up on life. At one point Mike left the table and came back with the collection of Dads pipes. He, Mark and Mitch had divided up Dads pipes a year previous. Mike had four complete pipes, two straight stemmed pipes and two with curved stems. He also had three well used pipe bowls that no longer had stems. Of these three pipe bowls, Mike wanted me to have one to take home.
My Fathers Pipe
I picked one that had some carving on it, the inside was charred and crusted from many smokes. I was holding a piece of something my father cradled in his own hands, packing, tamping and smoking. I knew the stem was probably gone because it was a well used pipe and had broken after many, many hours of smoking.
I came home and immediately wanted to have it fixed. Being a little naive, I thought I could just walk into a pipe/smoke shop and pick up a stem. It doesn't work like that, they send them out for repair, they need to be fitted properly to each pipe.
When the shop owner told me it would be sent to Pennsylvania and could take two or three weeks. I clung to the pipe bowl in my hand, not wanting to let it go, I had only just gotten it and now they have to send it off. I was torn, I didn't want to leave it and yet I wanted to get it fixed. About that time the man behind the counter said, "This must be a very special pipe." "Well, yes!" I was thinking. Then he said, "It must have belonged to your Father." Again I thought, "Well, yes!" Just hearing those statements brought me to near tears, as most of you know, my birth Father, passed away in 2011, just after I'd found him, he had been instrumental in leading me to Mike and the connection to the rest of the family in Texas.
I know I must leave the pipe, meanwhile being assured, in thirty years they had never lost a pipe. It was all I could do to answer questions about my address and phone number, I was on the edge and tears were slowing filling up my eyes, they would spill over at the least provocation. I had to be away from that man behind the counter, he was reading me too easily. With a lump in my throat and eyes filled to the brim, my wonderful hubby and I walked away to smell the different tobacco blends and look at pipes that were for sale. Before we left the owner, the same man that had been behind the counter, came out and began to talk to my wonderful hubby again. I had managed to compose myself and could actually join in the conversation, we talked about art and some other interesting things we found we had in common.
A couple weeks later I called about the pipe, expecting it to be back in their shop before Christmas. The lady that answered the phone put me on hold and was gone for some time. She then came back and said she'd have to call me back. Now I'm just a little nervous, questions of "Why can't they find my pipe filled my thoughts!". She calls back and said that she discovered that the pipe never left the store, that the owner himself was fixing my pipe, that he knew how important it was to me and he decided not to send it out and that it would be ready before Christmas.
The day before Christmas I get the call that the pipe is finished. I had just been emailing with Jeanne in Texas and mentioned the pipe was done. Since it was the day before Christmas, I was pretty busy, I really wanted to go over and thank the owner, but just couldn't fit it into the day. I was hoping when Richard came home he would run over and pick up the pipe for me.
Wonderful hubby comes home and says he'd pick it up but that I should go along. He was pretty insistent. We also knew the owner wouldn't be there until late in the day, I concluded, if the owner isn't there it would be a waste of my time to go, it was Christmas Eve after-all. And he was the person I needed to see. Then wonderful hubby tells me he has had a couple long distant calls and he knew there was no charge for the repair. I ask him how he knows this, he tells me he had talked with Jeanne in Texas and that she had called the shop and wanted to pay for the repair as a Christmas gift to me from my brother. Okay, my heart is melting and I might cry just typing this.
I have to think that Dad is up there, looking down, smiling on all of us, orchestrating all of these events and sending us messages of love through this special gift, a small, used, broken pipe. Thank you Daddy, for everything.