Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day countdown.

It is not too early to begin the celebration. Spend some time with your son or daughter in the wood shop and prepare for tomorrow.

My earliest distinct memory of my dad was working in the driveway outside our home in Memphis. He was dripping sweat and stripped down to a sleeveless undershirt, and I was trying to learn to hammer without smashing my thumbs. Much later, when we were living in Omaha, Nebraska and he was managing a hardware store, he took an old Shopsmith in on trade and bought it for my 14th birthday. Nowadays, a father might give his son an iPhone, but 46 years later I still have the Shopsmith. With my care and use, it works better now than then. I use it as a drill press and sometimes as my lathe. When I use it as a lathe, I can still feel my Dad's presence, over my shoulders, his hands on mine, as I guide tool to wood.

I will always be grateful that my father gave me the encouragement to work with my hands. My daughter Lucy is a third year student at Columbia and currently at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for a summer internship in geophysics. When she was three I had a small table in the wood shop where she could take my scraps and glue and build things from her own imagination. We still have a small collection of those interesting objects. When Lucy turned her first wood on the Shopsmith, I stood over her shoulders, my hands on hers and sensing the presence of my own father over my shoulders, his hands on mine. No doubt a father sitting down with a son or daughter to play video/computer games makes memories, too. But it is hard for me to imagine anything finer to share nor lasting to the senses than working with wood.

1 comment:

  1. Tomorrow I embark on my first Father's Day. My son is not yet born, but I choose to think it counts. He is due in late August.

    I have been thinking a lot about the time that I will spend with my son, about the things that I will teach him, and wondering what I will learn from him. It will be quite a happy Father's Day. I hope yours is as well.