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Dad staggered to his closet and But always, in the back corner…
put on a suit for his visit to the that little envelope. A little tilt
emergency room.

of the hand, and those silver
dollars would slide out smartly. I
I loved the tie tack drawer, the
would think about what I could
repository for the greatest col-
buy with those coins. American
lection of tie tacks you have ever
money was no good in Australia,
seen. He had gold and silver and
but I imagined their value
pewter, some with monograms,
as immeasurable—certainly
a few embedded with precious
enough to acquire everything I
stones or pretending to be. Some
could ever want. Why they would
shaped like states or crosses. My
be just sitting here, unused and
favorite was the gold kangaroo tie
useless, I couldn’t fathom. And
tack—he had a bunch of those.

then, gingerly, I would slide
e purchased the kangaroos them back in their weathered
at some Brisbane jeweler packet and replace it with careful
to give as gifts when back in precision in its assigned place in
America, and there were always the back of the drawer. When I
four or five of them in the tie tack started school, I could read what
drawer. And also, a couple of old was on the envelope but I didn’t
watches, a bunch of cuff links, understand what it meant. The
words were in Dad’s handwriting
and some silk handkerchiefs.

and they said—To Be Used When
And in the back corner, a little God Stops Providing. What could
brown envelope. It was a bit it mean? I wondered. For years, I
crumpled on the edges and had wondered. It was a decade later,
been sealed at one point, but the perhaps, and we were moving
years had dried up and cracked again. Among my duties was the
the adhesive. And it had writing
on it. Too bad I wasn’t old enough
to read because I couldn’t very
well go ask Dad what the words
said on the envelope in the drawer
in his room I wasn’t supposed to
be in. Inside the envelope were
three shiny silver dollars.

loved rifling through the
tie tack drawer whenever
I had the opportunity, loved
the little clinking noise the
trinkets made when I stirred them
around, loved to pick up the cuff
links and feel their weightiness in
my palm.

18 packing of the tie tack drawer.

Finally, an opportunity to ask
the meaning of the words on the
envelope, the reason for the three
silver dollars.

“There was this lady,” Dad said. “I
was 17 and was leaving home to
study for the ministry. She came
up to me in church, at Hardison
Baptist, and gave me the silver
dollars. Gave them to me in this
very envelope.”
I t was a nice gift, from a woman
who maybe didn’t have much
money, given to a farm kid who
definitely didn’t. “I took them to
college with me,” Dad continued,
“and I wrote these words on the
envelope. If I ever got to the point
of really needing this money, I
would know God had let me down
and I could go back to the farm.”
He stood there for a moment with
a wistful look. “That was a long
time ago,” he said. He handed the
envelope back to me. “Don’t lose
these,” he said.