Once again, the piece I was about to write shifted and this little girl encased in a frame demanded its time to shine instead. I love that I have so many oddities on hand that auto-switches are not only possible, but in my case, probable.
As soon as I saw this little girl I immediately thought of this frame hanging on the wall behind a man’s work bench. I wondered why. Was this work bench in the basement, a home’s garage or shed, or was it at a place of work? I let it sit in the back of my mind for a month or so until…I got it.
Here’s the story…
Dad wasn’t a builder as much as he was a fixer. Lamp quit lighting, toaster cord frayed, screen got a hole from the cat—whatever it was, her dad would make it whole again. He had this small portable radio of black plastic that sat on one of the wood shelves about shoulder high, and the crackle of the day’s baseball game announcements over the AM waves would rumble out as he worked, fingers re-threading or hammer nailing with a slow and easy smile on his face. Yep— shirt and tie man by day, tinkerer and fixer by night. That was her dad.
One evening, just before bedtime, the little girl appeared at the workbench, and watched for a moment as her dad slowly, carefully, replaced a worn plug on her favorite lamp. The lamp with little lambs playing in a field of tall grasses. She was too old for it, hadn’t used it since she moved to her big girl bed, but it was still a favorite.
And her dad knew that, so he replaced the bits that had been carelessly yanked out of the wall one angry play day. Just in case. Or perhaps looking ahead, to a time when it would be needed again, for the next generation.
Little hands held up the little frame to him that night. She’d begged her mother for it and her mother gave in, as mothers sometimes do, knowing intuitively how important that little frame was to her girl. His little girl wore a huge smile when she told him that was her, in that frame, his little bow in the hair child with the falling down socks. That was her, sure enough, he agreed with a squeeze to her little shoulder. Love in a frame, he called it.
And now, here it sits, right where the little girl pointed, all those years ago. Right next to that black plastic radio, leaning against small boxes of screws and bolts and other little pieces of the fixer’s life. The black plastic AM radio is silent, hasn’t played in years, and a thick coating of dust lines the shelves. The screws and bolts and tiny nails are still in their little plastic squares, labels hanging loose by a single yellowed piece of cellophane tape.
And right next to that black plastic AM radio is the little girl in the frame. The white background is beigey now, with little dots of black growth barely visible. Her socks are still falling, the bow is still in her hair, and right below her, on the wooden work bench sits a single lamp.
And on that lamp, frolicking forevermore, are three small lambs, jumping along a field of high grasses. The plug looks brand new.