As toy trucks go, this one is quite small, just under 2 inches long with raised lettering on each door that spells out “Nash.” It is made of some sort of metal, and it looks pretty good considering that it spent roughly 75 years buried in the dirt of rural Virginia.

Elizabeth Byrd Wood’s father, in dark shirt, plays with other children in Hanover County, Va., during the 1930s. His daughter found an unexpected connection to her father when she visited his childhood home after his funeral. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Byrd Wood

The little truck surfaced, so to speak, the day we buried my father.

On a warm October day in 2014, we buried Dad’s ashes next to my mother’s in the cemetery behind the Fork Church, a gracious old Colonial church in Hanover County, Virginia. My father died of old age at 87, and my sister and I took some consolation that day knowing that he was now at rest next to my mother, who had passed away several years earlier. After a short ceremony and a stroll through the family graveyard, we joined a few other relatives for cider and cookies in the church yard and traded a few fond recollections about my dad.

When it was time to leave, I asked my husband if he would mind making a detour to stop by my dad’s childhood home, which was nearby. Until he left for the Navy, my father lived with his parents above the small country bank where my grandfather worked.

When we got there, a woman was working in the yard in front of the old bank building, which has now been turned into a private residence. I hopped out of the car and explained that my dad had lived above the bank in the 1930s and ’40s and that my grandfather had worked there as a cashier.

She told me to wait, that she had something for me. After a quick trip into the house she came back with a small toy truck. “We found this recently when digging in the garden out back. I bet it belonged to your father,” she said. “It belongs to you – take it.”

Holding the toy in my hand, I imagined my dad as a little boy playing outside with his truck during the years of the Depression. He probably never dreamed that many years later his daughter would be reunited with his little truck. I had said a final goodbye to my wonderful father earlier that day, but curiously, a few hours later, his toy truck came into my possession, leaving me with a delightful memory of my father. And after all, isn’t that what keepsakes are for?

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: