High End Pens

On page 194 of the September issue of Oprah, there is a small article on fountain pens. I saved it because it reminded me of my husband.

Will loved pens. He hated shopping unless it was for a new pen (or Pittsburgh Steelers paraphernalia). He didn’t write much in his line of work. Mainly he took orders and filled in inventory files, but he insisted on having a good pen to do these things with. Before his illness took hold of him, he had printer perfect block letter penmanship and his cursive was small and impossibly neat. He would leave yellow post-it notes for me with little messages and I Love You’s that were basically the extent of the writing he was willing to do.

He had a pen-pal though. A foreign exchange student he met in high school and their correspondence spanned about seven or eight years. He stopped writing to her after we were married. Not because I asked him to but because she reappeared in his life about two months before our wedding expecting him to be free to pick up their on/off more romantic on his side than hers relationship. I think something about seeing she and I together made him finally realize that he had been used.

Periodically he would initiate a shopping trip strictly for the purpose of acquiring new pens. He would normally purchase several at a time because as a route salesman he knew that they would eventually be left at a stop or lost in the seat of the truck or dropped from his pocket as he loaded and unloaded.

I still have his favorite one. And though it doesn’t work very well anymore, I can’t throw it away. Our daughter seems to have inherited his love of writing utensils though she loves mechanical pencils as much as she loves pens. We are forever collecting them, and she has her favorites that tend to the girly with sparkles and feathers.

It never ceases to amaze me how much she is like him when she never really knew the man that I fell in love with. He was long gone by the time she was born. She only ever knew her father as a sick man. Confused. Frail. And then wheelchair and bed-bound. Unable to talk, see, feed himself.

“Daddy never talks to me,” she would say when I asked her if she would like to visit him in the nursing home where he spent over a year of the last fifteen months of his life.

The pen I save is one she uses sometimes though often she will decline to use it because “that’s Daddy’s.”

It’s funny the little things that pull up memories you forgot you even remembered. Articles in Oprah, god would he have laughed about that, and fountain pens.

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