Not long ago my favorite son made one of those offers we make on a whim and later regret. When I asked where the blue backpack he always carried while a cadet at the Air Force Academy was, he replied that he wasn’t allowed to use it on active duty; the backpack must be black if he is carrying one while in uniform.
I thought this a bit funny since they went to all the trouble to give him an Air Force blue pack with his name on it at the Academy only to tell him he can’t use it now but the military is a culture unto itself. As a Marine Corps officer I was specifically prohibited from carrying an umbrella or pushing a baby carriage while in uniform.
My son offered to send me the backpack since his name is also my name but when it arrived yesterday it came with a note asking me to take good care of it because it held a lot of memories and had great sentimental value.
I understand symbols and the meanings attached which make them much more than things. I watched that backpack get loaded into my car many times going and coming from the Academy. I watched it grow older and more seasoned as my son changed from a boy into a fine young officer.
I used the bag this morning to carry some things to school. Just seeing the bag made me think of my son and filled me with memories of him, and stream of consciousness being what it is, I also began thinking of my daughters, the exchange students who have lived with us, and the impact that young people have had on my life personally and professionally over the last 30 years or so since I first student taught.
I understand that the bag is packed with memories for more than one of us and I will take good care of it.