Posted in Family

Daddy Was A Saver


written by Nancy Malcolm

Happy Birthday in Heaven to my daddy, J.C. Claughton, Jr.

My Daddy was a “saver”.  A procurer of particulars…a frugal forager.  It was probably because he was a product of the Depression, but for whatever reason, if you needed ‘it’, he had it, at least one and an alternate.

 When Daddy passed away we found boxes full of souvenirs, balls of twine, ink pens, jars of nails and business cards.  We found his report cards, measuring tapes, hundreds of bank statements and thousands of photographs labeled neatly into chronological albums.  There were boxes, bags and myriad other containers full of his mementos.   

 My brother and I waded through his things sometimes laughing …sometimes crying.  Towards the end of our sorting, we bantered across to each other, “You take it!”  “No, YOU take it!”  Still, we filled large, black Hefty bags with things to give away or dispose of.  His obsessive ‘saving’ wore us out. Sometimes, as we discarded, I whispered a prayer, “I’m sorry Daddy, we just have to let this go,” hoping he understood.

Last year I was going through a box of Daddy’s things that I had ‘saved’ from ten years ago.  When I brought it home, I thought I would go through it right away. But, ten years had passed and I had just found the strength to open the box.

 Inside were our report cards, Baptism announcements, college essays, school pictures and more.  I found an old, faded manila envelope, sealed with a piece of tape and enclosed were letters and cards my brother and I had sent Daddy through the years; Father’s Day cards, poems, and notes we had written him.  Behind those cards were letters tied with a string….our letters to Santa Claus.

I unfolded one pristine piece of notebook paper and I was transported, as I read my brother’s childish handwriting. 

Dear Santa,  I hope that I have been good enough to deserve these things I want.  I would like a bulldog tank, an electric football game and a boy scout nap sack.  My sister would like a jewelry box, a ballarena doll, a girl cowboy suit and play doe, please.   From: Jimmy and Nancy. December 16, 1958

This letter was written the Christmas after our mother died.   My brother was nine and I was five years old.  Not all of our letters to Santa were saved, just this one and one other.

My Dad wasn’t always good at professing his love.  He wasn’t the sentimental, mushy type. But, after he was gone, I saw his tender side amongst the 14 retractable measuring tapes and boxes of Navy war memorabilia.  The cards and notes his children had sent and letters to Santa obviously touched his heart, although we never knew it.

His heart was inside this box that took me ten years to open. And, suddenly, all of this stuff he had ‘saved’, became a piece of him…a bridge to the other side, where he was standing, arms open wide, saying, “See?  I have always loved you.” And finally, my heart whispered back, “I know, Daddy. I love you, too.”


I am a photographer, writer, mother, grandmother, wife, retired educator, friend, aunt, sister, and believer. I am a motherless daughter.

16 thoughts on “Daddy Was A Saver

  1. Love, love, love this! Especially poignant going thru my mom’s things now since she moved to assisted living. As always, beautifully and sweetly expressed. Love you!💕


    1. You are in a difficult season of life right now, but handling it so well. I know your mom loves and appreciates you very much. Isn’t it amazing what we can learn about our parents by seeing what they kept as momentos? Wonder what our children will say about us? Love you always!


  2. Beautiful remembrance and tribute to your dad, Nancy! Weird how odd, small things can say so much about a person. Dad has a strong box that includes an old metal whistle he used when he coached JV baseball & football.


  3. I am moved to tears— this sounds so much like my Daddy! He was a saver, too. When we went through his things, we found boxes to pencils that couldn’t have been more than 1” long (and that included the eraser!), USED STAPLES, Rusty paper clips, and hundreds of ball point pens that didn’t write!! We also found the boxes of pictures from vacations — many of them had nothing to identify the place or the people. Every time we opened a drawer, it was a whole new round of “what are we gonna do with all of this!” We laughed and we cried to see all of the stuff they had quietly hoarded — Mother had saved every greeting card they had ever gotten (Christmas, Mother’s/Father’s Day, birthdays), spoils of thread with maybe 6” of thread left, unused greeting cards with and without the envelopes — all filed away very neatly in drawers! It broke my heart to do away with most of it, but neither my sisters or I wanted or had room for their stuff. That Depression-era generation really knew how to use everything to the nth degree, but they just never learned how to throw stuff away!!!


    1. Janis, thank you for reading. Yes, it sounds as if our parents were cut from the same cloth. Bless them. My daddy would keep everything in the hopes of reusing it. He built furniture from wood and scrap metal he would find on his walks. As a teenager I was embarrassed, but now I see it in a whole new way. Take care, Janis! xo


    1. Thank you for reading. So true. It is so important to remember the good and loving qualities of our loved ones. I think I’ve learned more about my Dad since he’s been gone.


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