Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Walking In My Dad's Shadow

Several years ago I sent my mom some money for her birthday. She poked it down in a corner of her purse and let it age for a while. Then one day while out with my dad she spotted the remains of an old buggy. Almost a buckboard yet a bit larger. Probably something like a doctor's buggy but without the canvas top. It was in sad condition but she knew that my dad could put it back together. And he did. He saved as much of the original wood as he could and then made patterns off the pieces he couldn't save and before long they had a nice little black buggy sitting in the front yard at their little farm. The wheels on it were not original. None came with mom's purchase, but dad found some metal wheels that he took off some farm impliments and so it looked pretty cute.

Well, in August of 2009 my dad passed away. It was tramatic for all of us because my dad, in his quiet way, had been the head of our family. He was the leader. He was the one we called when we faced a problem because he seemed to have the answer even if it was just to listen to us.  When we went back for the auction at the old home place I asked if I could have the buggy. Mom said yes, since she was moving into a senior adult duplex where she couldn't have yard art.

I loaded it on my motorcycle trailer and towed it to Colorado where we parked it in the yard and Jane immediately loaded it down with geraniums. For two years it sat there through rain, snow, sleet, hail and hot mountain sun. The grandkids climbed on it and pictures were taken with people sitting in it.

When we came home from Seattle one of the first things I noticed was the old buggy in the yard. It had seen better days. The seat had collapsed and the box was ready for someone to step right through. I decided that it had to be one of my summer projects.

Two weeks ago I drove to Home Depot with measurements in hand, purchased wood and screws and paint and hurried back up the mountain to begin the process.

But as I started dismanteling the buggy I realized that I was handling the wood that my dad had last repaired. I was trying to rebuild something that he had rebuilt years before.  I carefully took it apart and just as my father had, I saved the pieces for patterns. I drew them with care because I wanted it to be like my dad's. It's funny how, in moments like that, I find myself talking to my dad and wondering what he would think. "Am I doing this right?"

In a matter of about 4 hours I had the thing put back together and ready for paint. By the next afternoon it was back in the yard and Jane was out looking for flowers to put in it. This weekend two of our grandsons will be here and I can guarantee that they will be climbing into that buggy and sometime during the hours that they are here, pictures will be taken.

But I realize that, not only did I take patterns off my dad's buggy, but I've used him as a pattern all of my life. He was such a good man and his values were so clear. He wasn't a baron of industry or an executive in some Fortune 500 company. He was a simple man who repaired boxcars for the Santa Fe Railroad for 43 years. But his life was worthy of emulating. He was my dad and working on the buggy reminded me again of my rich heritage through he and my mom.

1 comment:

  1. This makes me cry. I love him and miss him. Awesome job, Tim! On the wagon and the blog :D