The Carborundum

A couple years ago, Bill was helping my mom clean out the basement. I am fortunate to know a chemist, as I would have no idea what to do with all the stuff my dad had collected and stored away for all these years. I told Bill to keep a lookout for a piece of carborundum that my dad had. Carborundum is a man-made “mineral” that has industrial uses but also is collected by those of us who appreciate its aesthetic qualities. My dad had given me a very small piece of carborundum a long time ago…about the size of a thumbnail. In true father form, he never gave me the large piece which was a couple inches or so across, although it’s not as if he kept it out on display, or brought it out to enjoy once in a while. Just like with the carnival glass–stored away in the basement, hidden from view, while his daughter could be enjoying it, he was keeping it just because. Just because it was his, and he and generosity were strangers, except when it came to strangers–strangers in the name of the Catholic Church Charities–then he was generous.

Bill found the carborundum, saved it for me, wrapped it carefully inside a small cardboard box with foam padding lined with aluminum foil. He was so careful because the thing was rather fragile. He kept it for me, because I knew it would be safe with him, and my mom might forget where she put it if he left it with her. When we came out that fall, I got it from him and it made the journey back to Madison. And I thought I had put it with the rest of my rocks on the sideboard in the living room.

A month after Tim died, on Saturday, February 5, I woke up early thinking about the carborundum for some odd reason. I then realized I hadn’t seen it for a while. I got up, went to the living room, looked on the sideboard, and couldn’t find it. I’m a bit worried…did it fall? where was it? I looked on the very top of the sideboard. It wasn’t there either. I then started going through all my drawers, wondering if I had put it somewhere to be safe. I could not find it anywhere. This horrible feeling came over me…somehow I had lost this item that had meant so much to me because it was so beautiful and I could never have it until just recently, and now that I took possession of it, it vanished.

I was reminded of the story in Pulp Fiction, when the Christopher Walken character tells the young Butch how Butch’s father gave him (Walken) a watch to give to his son (Butch) back in the states as he was a dying soldier in Vietnam, and Walken had to carry the watch up his ass and through all sorts of war obstacles, just to do right on his buddy’s words and pass along this family’s heirloom. And after Butch has had the watch for 20 or 30 years or so, his stupid girlfriend leaves it on the nightstand when she was supposed to pack it so they could flee the country. Then Butch has to go through his own war obstacles of gangsters and hillbillies, just to get the watch back. I know the situations are different, but somehow I could relate to that story. Christopher Walken didn’t go through hell just so Butch’s stupid girlfriend could forget the watch on the nightstand. I didn’t go through hell my whole life of dealing with his Aspergian ungenerosities just to lose what I’ve waited for so long. I didn’t have my friend go through the trouble of finding it for me and keeping it safe, just so I could absentmindedly lose it.

I was feeling nauseous. I called up Stan at work, thinking he might know where it was. He thought it was the same place I did. By making that phone call to Stan, I put him through hell as well, because he thought he had accidentally tossed it out with some boxes.

I knew one thing always worked in the past when I thought something was lost…buy a new one! It almost always works. So I went to ebay, found a nice piece of carborundum…larger than the one my dad had, and bought it. (I was surprised that it was affordable…the way my dad hung on to his piece, you’d think it’d be worth a fortune…that just goes to show how stingy he is. He could’ve found another piece for me at a rock shop or something and given it to me as a gift. But no. Had I known carborundum was so affordable, I would’ve gotten my own piece years ago. Oh well, whatever. Nevermind.) Still, I felt horrible for the original piece. Then, I started thinking about Tim, and it was like Tim had told me to look on the top of the sideboard, even though I had already looked up there. Tim is tall…he can see tall places unlike me who has to stand on stuff. So I looked again, still nothing, but it was like Tim told me to look inside the round green vase. Odd place, but I looked. And there it was.

I was so overjoyed. I had put it in the vase to keep it safe, so cats wouldn’t knock it down, so it wouldn’t get dusty. I don’t remember doing it, but that must have been what I was thinking. I was sooooo happy. And the piece from ebay? I gave it to Stan as Valentine’s Day was coming up. Now we have two.


I recounted this story to my mom yesterday. Although she could relate to the tale as a whole, she seemed a bit unresponsive regarding the Tim part. This is someone who, unlike myself, went through many incarnations of religious thought over the years. Her parents never took her to church (oh, envious me), although she wanted to go like her friends did. When she was young she wanted some sort of religion in her life, and well, she married my dad. But after seeing the hypocrisies of religion and religious people, she has completely gone areligious. I asked her several years ago whether she thought of herself as an agnostic or an atheist, and she thought about it a while and said she considered herself more of an atheist. I was pretty proud of her to take that stand. After all, agnosticism is sort of like the mullet of religious thought. Commit one way, will ya?

Can I still believe I feel Tim’s intelligence or consciousness at certain times while maintaining my atheism? Most definitely. See the thing is, so many people try to tie that “ghost presence” to the existence of “God.” Something weird happened, therefore, there must be a god! Silly. I attribute it to unexplained phenomena, something that science will potentially be able to explain if we are able to study inner space as well as we have studied outer space.

About Ann

Painter, jewelry-maker, graphic designer, dingbat font creator, imagineer, progressive, liberal, Wisconsinite by birth and later by choice, dog and cat mom, sushi-lover and foodie.

4 thoughts on “The Carborundum

  1. Theories of the existence of God show are our own anthropomorphic projections. I think there is science to consciousness and that just as time and space have no beginning or end consciousness has no beginning or end either. Our perception tells us that the earth is flat even though it is round and there is no way to fall off the edge of the earth. Our perception that consciousness is from birth to death is like seeing the earth as flat. You can’t go the the edge of consciousness and fall off.

    I love the Carborundum Bill and Tim helped you find and thank you again for the new one too.

  2. You’re welcome!

    My dad kept it from me, and my best male friends helped me get it. Poetry in that.

  3. I like your analogy of falling off the edge of consciousness. Sounds like something out of Jim Morrison’s mind.

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