This little sticky happens to be a short list of all of the little, important items that my husband would carefully jam into the pocket of his work shirt every weekday morning for more than 30 years. It was amazing how all of it fit. And of course, every evening he grabbed them by the handful wiggling them out of the tight pocket and laid them down on the dresser next to his wallet, keys and any little treasures he would find throughout his day as an Elevator/Escalator Mechanic. The treasures actually fit better in his pants pockets. In his shirt pocket there was the dirty, little black book. Dirty because he had a dirty, greasy job and wrote down each job he did throughout his busy day. It was also his calendar and daily planner and phone book. I checked over that calendar last year looking for any possible little hint of maybe a scribbled little note of life outside of his work. It was not there. That book was all work related, as it should be. The funny thing about the little black book is that he could never find the right size that would fit perfectly into his pocket. So each year he would buy the same planner and, using my scrapbook paper cutter, he would slice off the extra 1/8th inch of the book so it would fit into this pocket. There was a stylus for the handheld computer, a black permanent marker, a metal metric scale, metal ruler and little tiny red screwdriver, ballpoint pen, a jumper circuit and wooden orange stick.
Our early morning routine was probably like everyone else. His alarm would go off at 4:30 and after a couple slaps of the snooze button, he would get up and in the shower. As he dressed, his routine was usually the same. He wore a gray uniform that over the course of 30 something years changed the shades of gray from light to dark and back again. His black steel toed boots were heavy and laced up pretty quickly, unless, the laces broke like the morning he was in a hurry and nothing seemed to go right. Not a good morning.
The shirt pocket was packed tightly, carefully, each piece going it's place. Sometimes, I watched his quiet routine of filling that pocket, clipping the phones and gadgets to his work belt, not saying a word. I often wondered what he was thinking. I asked him once and he said, "nothing". Was it all about the pocket? Or was he already mentally at work? Could he feel me watching him? Did he really know how much I loved him? I told myself that one day I would always remember this repetition. I had to write it down so I don’t forget. I don’t want to forget.
I went to the kitchen to put his lunch (that I usually made the night before), into his lunch pail. I added a bottle of water, Coca Cola, a sandwich, snack, fruit, veggie and chips and sometimes a little sweet something. It varied according to what we had in the house at the time and how I felt the night before. For instance, every Wednesday was peanut butter and jelly day. I don’t know why, he just liked peanut butter and jelly. He had a heavy, white coffee cup that didn't fit into the holder of his work truck so he built a special wooden cup holder in the console between the seats of the truck. I think it worked pretty well.
On his last day, December, 3rd, 2010, we were laughing and joking in the kitchen, a little bit before 5 a.m., while he was saddling up for the day. The shirt pocket, tight with every important item in it's place. One hand quickly tapped one hip, feeling the heavy ring of keys. Silently, he checked the electronic communication array that hung from his belt; cell phone, work phone and other gadgets. We were still joking around and then his eyes held mine for a minute, he gently kissed me good bye and said "I love you". Then he walked across the back yard to his work truck with the heavy, white coffee cup in one hand, lunch pail in the other, keys jangling.