Just as I was about to say, “No, don’t! I love them; I’ll buy them!” He took the glasses and threw them, hard, on the cement. He was right; they didn’t even crack.
It was 2005 and my dad, Henry, and I were traveling together in Europe. On this particular day we were in Venice, Italy, bargaining with a suave Italian street vendor.
“Do you want them?” My gracious dad asked. “Because if you do, I’d love to buy them for you.”
“I do love them, Dad,” I said. And with that, he paid the man his money and we – me, my dad, and my new sunglasses – were off.
I never imagined in a million years that those sunglasses truly wouldn’t break. I assumed the man’s declaration was just a ploy to get us to buy my now beloved pair. But here we are, 11 years later, and those sunglasses have been sat on, dropped, misplaced and found countless times, and unlike any other pair I’ve ever owned, are still around and my most treasured accessory.
It may seem silly to write about a pair of sunglasses, but they represent so much. They remind me of my dad, who has been gone from this world since 2007. They bring back such warm memories of that trip together, just me and him, discovering Europe for both of our first times. I wear them, and can feel a piece of my dad with me. Even if I didn’t love them so, I imagine I would still wear them always, because they remind me of him. And those sunglasses have been with me through my life’s most monumental events: Europe with my dad, my life in New York City, surviving a brain bleed, losing my precious father, moving back to Minnesota, meeting the love of my life, graduate school and career changes, marriage, and the birth of my three beautiful children.
Through it all, these sunglasses remain one of the only constants, and serve as reminder of my father, and his ever-present place in my life.
There have been occasions where I’ve temporarily misplaced them, and cried heavy tears until, miraculously, the glasses reappeared. Somehow, they’ve always found their way back home to me.
And so I look back on that day in Venice when that salesman threw those glasses on the ground, and I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude toward him. He has no idea the impact he, and those glasses, have made on my life, and just how meaningful they are to me.