My Old Aardvark

This is an essay written for one of my online classes.  It started out at 865 words and I was challenged to get it down to 500.  I thought that would be impossible to do while keeping the same impact.  Here it is, please comment.  I’ll have a link to the longer version at the end if anyone is interested.

My Old Aardvark

Today I walked out to the garage and saw my old aardvark. His tail is lost; his tongue and its attached ant are gone, leaving a hole at the end of his nose. His ears are drooping and flaking away. Three legs are broken and he stands like a dog sitting, offering a paw. His eyes are the same, but with a dusty, aged look.

I created my aardvark years ago in the eighth grade. We were assigned a paper mache project and I chose to do an aardvark since I liked both the word and the aardvark in the B.C. comic strip.

The aardvark’s body was a bleach bottle and his nose was a long inflated balloon. His legs were toilet paper rolls, his tail a piece of rope and a stiff wire served as his tongue. His ears stood up with little folds at the tips. Layers of paper and paste connected and molded these mismatched pieces until my aardvark took shape. I painted him reddish brown and his eyes were slightly crossed, bloodshot, big white ovals with blue irises and black pupils.

Dad liked my aardvark enough to adopt him and keep him in his room. It was his personal game room, office, junk room and bar. My dad had my aardvark in his room for over thirty years. I realize now how much more my aardvark saw of Dad, that I never did.

I was close to my dad. We both loved military history. He had a bookcase of model fighters and other bookcases filled with military history books. He had stacks of war games and magazines. Together we re-fought the battles of Gettysburg, Stalingrad, Midway, and Waterloo.

I went away to college, returned and lived with my brother. His house was close to Dad’s and I visited often. My aardvark was still in Dad’s room, keeping watch over him. I would talk to Dad about the new games and magazines he had collected and about other things, but the history/game connection was our strongest bond.

Over the years life moved me further from Dad. His hearing went away and health problems contributed to his diminishing mental acuity. When I did visit, we talked less and less. But I always got a chuckle out of my aardvark, still in dad’s room, still observing.

When Dad passed away, his room was left pretty much alone. I still visited and browsed through the games, magazines and memories. My aardvark watched me now.

Mom passed a few years later and we had to sell the house. I got my favorite games, books, magazines, and items that triggered good memories. And the aardvark; I looked at him, laughed, and brought him home with me.

Today I walked out to the garage and saw my old aardvark. My first memories were of junior high and a paper mache project. Everything is broken except for his eyes. I looked at his eyes and wished I’d seen everything they had seen.

My Old Aardvark – long version

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