We sit snugly beside a warm, crackling fire built with the scraps from my dads woodwork shop. When Dad died it seemed important not to throw away the boxes of wood scraps left on his workbench and on the floor of the garage.
At the age of 70 after retiring from the ministry, dad started a new hobby, woodworking. He searched for clear, simple pictures of animals and had my sister enlarge them on her copy machine. Then he would trace them onto chosen pieces of wood and cut them jigsaw fashion out of maple, dogwood, cherry. These simple shapes cut from several different colours of wood fit together to form raccoons, horses, dogs, eagles and many other animals. He spent hours in his workshop, sanding, shaping, cutting gluing. Each of us three kids and each of his four grandchildren received one of his loving intarsia creations. Mine is a raccoon, staring cheekily from the branch of a tree.
Seeing dad begin a new craft and receiving the creations he produced warmed all of us. We helped him collect patterns, wood from tree pruning and subscriptions to workshop magazines. Somehow what our dad did affected each one of us in positive, uplifting ways.
When dad went into the hospital for surgery, we all cheered him on. Another hurdle to over-come, with no doubt that he would overcome it as he had many before. We brought him funny toys, cards, jokes. We laughed at his drug-induced delusions and forgetfulness. We cried at his depression. We encouraged him, pushed him, urged him to get up, walk, eat, drink. He came home and we thought he’d get out into his workshop again, but he didn’t, except to stand in the doorway and stare at all of his unfinished projects. He’d feel better tomorrow. No hurry. The projects would wait.
Now he’s gone and we sit by our fire, dad’s wood crackling cheerily. He always warmed us, made us feel good about life. He still does.
© 1992 Sharron R. McMillan