I was trying to figure out why a flashlight wasn’t working tonight. I changed the batteries, but that didn’t seem to help. I realized that the little light bulb was busted. Then I remembered that somewhere in my drawer I had a collection of those little light bulbs.
I looked in a cupboard and found this:
It was an old 35mm film container that my grandfather had filled with light bulbs, each meticulously labeled, along with a handy guide. I think he used these to test batteries.
I cried in that moment because I miss him so much. But I was also overwhelmed with gratitude for all the things that my grandfather did for me and gave to me.
I definitely inherited his attention to detail. He was supremely organized: all the light bulbs in a little container, all the nails kept in one jar, all the flathead screws kept in another jar, all the batteries organized by size, news clippings filed into folders. And he took notes about everything: when he bought those batteries and for how much. I do that too: recording every expenditure to the penny in a big spreadsheet.
Sometimes I wonder if I became a mathematician because he shared his curiosity and love of learning with me. He loved building and making things, like his own automatic fish feeder (which overfed the fish once and kill them all). Here are some old photos of me having fun with my grandfather. I think he was testing out his new camera and roped me into being his little helper to change the numbers. In the photos, you can see how he was testing out different lighting conditions.
I got that flashlight working. My grandfather had saved just the right light bulb that fit and worked.
Thank you, 爷爷 and 奶奶, for both the little things and the big things. I miss you so much.