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Jack of All Trades

Something Basic About Myself

I had a very hard time speaking as a child. Some words were nearly impossible for me. Although I adored her, I was never able to say my favorite aunt’s name because the combination of sounds in the name Mildred was just too difficult to say. I had lost my baby teeth in a playground incident much too early. Okay, it was not a smart idea to chase some boy when he climbed the see-saw and when approaching the opposite end, there was a pretty big crash at the end of the see-saw and my head. I was lucky to walk away with only a few missing teeth. Maybe there was brain damage but I’m fairly certain it was just the lack of two front teeth for two years that caused the speech impediment.

Because I had a hard time speaking many words, other words were just confusing to me. Cinnamon was an especially difficult word and it tended to go on and on for much longer than the actual word. Another word that caused confusion was “jacks”. I was much younger than my brothers and lived on a farm so one of my favorite past-times was playing jacks. It was something you could do alone and get better and better at as time went along. I spent a lot of time on the front steps or porch of our home bouncing that little ball and building my hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, etc.

Sometimes my parents would use the phrase “Jack of all trades, Master of None”. I’m sure my father used it in regard to himself. It fit him. He was a farmer, a salesman, a mechanic, a funny man and sometimes a bully. There were very few things my father couldn’t do aside from keeping control of his anger. Like many WWII veterans, he’d grown up quickly and was self-reliant and far too proud. He was a good man and I was the apple of his eye. He spoiled me and was hard on me at the same time. He was also the funniest person I’ve ever known and probably will ever know. He got a genuine kick out of making me laugh and made that an effort almost every day. It has been a long time since he passed away but I still miss him terribly.

Getting back to the Jack of all trades thing, that word, “jacks”, has ironically become one of the most important words in my life. Like my father, I’ve become a Jack of all trades and Master of None. When I was young I thought I would become one because I played jacks so often. From a child’s perspective, it makes sense that I put those two thoughts together. I was sure that was what a person who played jacks became when they got older. It’s the same thinking that had me getting up from my seat in the living room every time a station broadcast the message “Please Stand By”. I would patiently stand next to the TV until one day my father asked me what I was doing and I told him. Yeah, they laughed about that for a long time. I was and still am very literal.

Mr. Jackson has a nickname that all his friends from home call him: Jax. My cat, who was black and has gone to kitty heaven, was named Jax. The only reason I met Mr. Jackson was because my cat had the same name. Mr. Jackson is constantly harassing me that I only pretend the cat’s name was Jax so I can use that as an excuse to have sent him a message online in the first place. It’s a name and word that was confusing as all get-out as a child but has come to mean the world to me. Fourteen years after marrying the joker, I’m glad to have so many Jacks in my life and wondering when and where the next one will come along. I just hope I can pick them all up before the next bounce.