The stapler: symbol of fallen heroes and broken dreams.

No?

Well, you don’t know this stapler like I know this stapler. Let me share. Firstly, this stapler is solid. It is made entirely of metal except for the rubber feet. It is rather heavy. It works very well. It was made some time prior to the year 1964, and still functions. Items like this make grampa say, “They don’t make ’em like this any more!”

But this reminiscence is not about grampa, it’s about my father. This stapler was his. It sat on his downstairs desk, which was large, usually neat, and white, with a glass top. My father was a mathematics teacher. The stapler was one of the tools of his trade, but he had others, such as some of the first electronic calculators to make it to the mass market. I am surely one of the last people on the planet to have used a slide rule, of which he had several.

My dad was my hero. He taught me the number 71077345 which, when turned upside down, spells “ShELL OIL” on early LED calculators. He taught me how to use the slide rule, though logarithms were beyond my kid self. He taught me how to bait a hook and which bends in the river were likely to harbor the largest rainbow trout.

The stapler said “Spokane Public Schools” on it. That didn’t take on much significance until after the divorce and disclosures of several marital infidelities and money troubles and an accompanying deep, shattered feeling. In my new broken home, I inherited the stapler. Sorting through all the lies made me wonder about the “Spokane Public Schools” label. Dad had worked at Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane before I was born. I came to the only logical conclusion. That rat of a father of mine had stolen it on his way out the door.

Time passed. Like an amoeba dividing, I found myself with four parents. Tentatively, my dad and I started talking again. There was healing. Some concrete patch was poured over the shattered foundations of trust.

Eventually, maturity bloomed out of the fertile fields of pain, and I asked dad about the stapler. I expected a guilty cringe. I got a warm smile. “Oh,” he said, “That was a farewell gift from Lewis and Clark High School when I left. Such good people, there.”

The stapler: symbol of redemption. Symbol of inner peace.

P.S. Dad, I love you.

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