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Talisman #4: The Tie Bar

February 16, 2017

I never saw him wear it. I never knew he owned it until after he died. He never indicated it was meant anything to him, or that he thought it should to me. But, it does.

The collection of men’s jewelery lay spread out on the kitchen table. My mother was doing her best to cope with the recent passing of my father. Her children, and his children, and their children were gathered as families do when someone dies, and there are details to be tied up.

These were his. You guys can take something if you want. . .

The suggestion just hung there in air. My adult brothers and my sister and I kind of sat there in awkward silence. One brother took a watch. Another one took a set of cufflinks. What is the protocol for dividing up the effects of the dead? I think you have to make it up as you go.

The tie bar was one of several that he owned. I’m sure he’d worn ties, but I don’t remember it being often. I certainly had never seen this tie bar before. It reminded me of a Scouting award, with it’s square knot design. My dad wasn’t a camper. He was a scout when he was very young, but not only had I never seen him sleep on the ground, I couldn’t imagine such a thing.

But, scouting was important to me. It was really important. When I was 15 years old, I had nearly completed the requirements for my Eagle Scout award but was a little bogged down getting it completed. My dad asked me about it.

Do you want to get your Eagle Scout?


No, I mean do you really want to get that award?


Are you sure?

Yes, I’m sure. It’s really important to me!

Okay, you’re grounded from all activities this summer until you’ve completed the requirements.

At the time I was annoyed, in retrospect, it was simply his way of helping me to work on something that he really couldn’t otherwise help on.

He spoke at my Eagle Court of Honor. I don’t remember what he said. I do remember that he was there and he was talking about me. Our relationship went through the ups and downs of most fathers and sons. We valued different things. I tried to understand the things important to him and he tried to understand me. We didn’t always get to that point. Our relationship ended in a really good place. There were no words left unspoken. I don’t have unresolved issues with my Dad.

I picked him to be my dad when I was 14 years old and asked him to adopt me. He’d married my mother a few years earlier. He wasn’t perfect, and never pretended to be. The tie bar represents him well. The black stone at the end of the tie bar turned out to be a ruby red; impossible to see the color without a light behind it. The tie bar has been damaged and repaired more than once.

It keeps me grounded. It reminds me that none of us are perfect. The best you can hope for is to do the best you can and be satisfied with that.

This is the fourth in a five part series on the talismans in my life.

#1 The Coin
#2 The Lapel Pin
#3 The Masonic ring
#4:  The Tie Bar
#5: The Ring

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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