One Last Stocking Stuffer

Dad used to do my brother's and my Christmas stocking stuffers. He shopped at hardware and dollar stores, often duplicating gifts year to year. Duct tape and black electrical tape. Utility razor blades, glue, picture hooks, and Velcro. Almost every year I opened a scraper and a tire pressure gauge. A can of WD-40 filled the top of my stocking nearly every year.

My brother and fill each other's stockings with Dad gone the last three Christmases. This year I asked for duct tape, glue, razor blades, and pads for chair legs. No scrapers and pressure gauges, but I needed WD-40. I filled my brother's stocking with Crazy Glue, a pocket tape measure, chrome polish and other things Dad would have bought including a tiny can of WD-40 but he forgot mine. He apologized. I told him not to worry.

Yesterday I took Mom for coffee. I sipped my Americano while updating her phone and showing her how to read notifications. Mom is better than all her friends with her iPhone but needs occasional tutorials and phone maintenance. We chatted while working that through, stopped at the liquor store to get bourbon cream for her afternoon cocktails, and went back to her house where I helped put away some boxes, emptied dehumidifiers, and replaced the battery of a chirping smoke detector in her basement. (Mom worried the chirp was a mouse. A very regular and electronic mouse. Those are the worst kind.)

She had a fresh battery upstairs. I took it down to the basement and snapped it in. After testing the smoke detector I took a moment in Dad's workshop looking around to feel his presence. Mostly I felt absence. On the workbench was a can of WD-40. It was full like it had never been used. I held it for a moment maybe a minute then took it upstairs where I said goodbye to Mom, went out to my car, and drove home.

Before starting to make dinner, I texted a picture of the can to my brother: "Dad got me one last stocking stuffer." I hit send and stared at the message smiling with my eyes fogging over, my breath catching. I sniffed and set the phone down on the kitchen table, its screen still on. I cut vegetables for soup. The onions had me crying.