A Father’s Day Story: Of Dreams Stored in an Attic Trunk

By Richard Mabey Jr.


It was in early June of 2004, that my dad decided to clean out the attic of the old Mabey Homestead. I remember it was a Saturday morning. The events that followed that very fateful day would allow me to see my beloved father, in an entirely different light. For my father had a secret dream, that for whatever reason, he had never even shared with Mom.


So, after breakfast, Dad and I climbed the 15 steps of the old Mabey Homestead, walked down the hallway to the attic door at the end of the hall. I placed the old wooden ladder, that my great grandfather had built, in place. Dad was first to begin the climb up the ladder. I followed.


When we got up to the attic floor, Dad pulled the string that hung in the middle of the attic. It was attached to a single, unshaded, 40-watt lightbulb. 


“There that’s better,” I remember my dad saying as the light suddenly lit up the entire attic. Then Dad pointed to the old, wooden, vintage storage trunk that was located in the far, northwest corner of the attic. The trunk had belonged to my great grandmother, Catherine Cavanaugh. She used it to bring all her earthly possessions from Ireland to America, over a hundred years ago.


“I’ve been meaning to go through this old trunk. Every time I would think about it, something would come up. I’m 76 years old now, I think it’s time I’d better clean it out,” Dad quietly and reflectively shared with me.


We walked over to the old, antique trunk. Dad opened it up. The hinges squeaked. There, within that trunk were stacks of yellowed, drawing paper. They were tied up by pieces of blue ribbon. Each tied stack had about 50 sheets of drawing paper, neatly stacked. 


They were stacks of pencil drawings. Some were of trees and lakes and open fields. There was even a pencil sketch of the old Mabey Homestead. There were also sketches of Mabey Lane, Earl’s Meadow, the old apple tree, and the original old barn that once stood in the backyard of our homestead. 


“I used to fiddle around with drawing stuff when I was a kid,” Dad told me. There was a certain sadness in my dear father’s eyes, as together, we looked at the old drawings. After I came home from the war, I did some more drawing. Then your uncle and I started our trucking company, I started dating your Mom. And well, I just gave up on the dream.”


There was such a melancholy sadness that prevailed in my father’s voice as he shared those reflective words with me. For the next few moments, Dad and I just looked at the pencil sketches that he drew as a boy and as a young man. My heart cried for my father.


“Dad, these are good drawings. Really good drawings!” I exclaimed to my father.


“Thank Richie. Just the way life is, son. Not all your dreams come true,” Dad quietly said to me. My father fought hard to hold back his tears. 


“Well, we better put these back. We got a lot of stuff up here to go through,” Dad reflectively told me.


I remember my father, took the blue ribbons. He tied up the bundles of pencil sketches. Then gently, with a degree of reverence, placed his drawings in the old trunk. Dad quietly closed the top of the his grandmother’s trunk.


“Well, us standing around this old trunk’s not going to get his attic cleaned out. Come on, Richie, we got a lot of work to do today.” 


Dad and I did clean out the attic that fateful June day of 2004. When all the dust was swept from the floor beams of the attic, we climbed down the old wooden ladder. Oddly, Dad never talked about his pencil sketches ever again, in the two more years that God had been given to be alive. 


My father was one of the hardest working individuals I have ever known. He worked as a long distance truck driver and would often moonlight as a trucking dispatcher, to earn extra money. Dad served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170 for 25 years. He was a devoted Christian man, a good father, and an endearing husband to my mom. 


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He has a YouTube Channel, titled “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of his poems and short stories, that is selling rather well. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com


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