Friday, October 11, 2013

These Are My Three Favorite Things

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Friday, October 11, 2013

By Bill Gouveia

            My desk at my real job is a pretty cluttered mess, reflecting much of my own personal life I suppose.  But three very special things are always on it, and have been for varying lengths of time.  They are:  A can, a rock, and an acorn.


            That may sound a bit strange, but some parents might quickly pick up on the relative significance of these seemingly random objects and how they are connected.  Each one is a gift I received from my two sons and my oldest grandchild.

            The can is the ranking member of the desktop crowd.  It is actually a pencil-holder, and is supposed to be either a rabbit or a kangaroo – I was never really quite sure which.  It was a Father’s Day gift from my oldest son Aaron almost 30 years ago, when he was in pre-school.  It is one of my most prized possessions.

            Whatever was in that can, now covered with faded paper, would have expired in February 1988 according to the stamp on the bottom.  And that old-school paste or glue had to be great stuff, because the paper is still bonded to that aluminum as if it were welded.  It can accommodate about 13 pencils, a highlighter, two magic markers and a bottle opener.

            Second in seniority is the rock, which prefers to be known as a paperweight.  For approximately 27 years or so now, it has professionally and seamlessly held papers on my desk.  A gift from my youngest son Nate early in his school years, it ranks right up there with the pencil-holder in my own personal pantheon of important and meaningful possessions.

            The rock – excuse me, paperweight – is decorated skillfully to look like a face.  While it was never really what you could call handsome, it has suffered some physical setbacks over the years.  It lost one eye about a decade or so ago (during a drunken brawl with the copy machine, according to office legend), and attempts to glue it back in place were unsuccessful.  The tongue is perpetually hanging out of its mouth, making me wonder if it has actually been mocking me all these years.

Then there is the third musketeer – the acorn.  The acorn is by far the junior member of the group, having only been with me a couple of years.  It originally came from just outside my office, but it is who gave it to me that makes this perhaps the most special present of all.

My oldest grandchild (did I mention his name is William?) gave me the acorn one day when he came with his mom to visit.  He was three years old at the time, and walked in like he owned the place (which I love).   He had a huge smile on his face and was clutching something in his small hand.

“Grandpa, I brought this for you!” he beamed, and held out the acorn.  I had never seen a more beautiful acorn, and immediately told him so.  He was very happy.

“You can keep it on your desk,” he told me excitedly.  I assured him that was my plan, and placed it in a highly visible spot towards the back of my cluttered work surface.  He then started looking around my office for snacks, and it appeared the acorn was forgotten.

But in the more than two years that have followed, young Will looks for that acorn every time he comes to visit Grandpa’s work.  And every time, without fail, that acorn sits where it belongs – and my grandson just smiles and knows I value his gift.

Over the last three decades I have lost approximately 27,459 handwritten notes, 12,226 pens, 7 million paper clips, hundreds of dollars, and probably a few employees -  all in the clutter that is my desk.

But I still have a can, a rock, and an acorn.  I will never lose them, because they are my treasure, my gold, things that remind me what is important in my life.  I look at them when I am working, and they always make it easier to get through the day.

They were given in love by my children and my grandson – and things like that you just never lose.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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