Dad was the son of a carpenter in a time when basements were dug and laid by hand—shovelful by shovelful, block by block, when boards were cut to length with tape, square, and handsaw, and rafters were constructed and nailed in place by one man, swinging a hammer, hour after hour, day after day.
Dad learned the value of conservation and sleeping well after a hard day’s work—not from PBS programs or sleep studies—but from watching his father. Grandpa salvaged building materials from condemned properties for use in future building projects. He pulled nails from planks and two by fours and straightened them with his hammer to be reused. His was the generation that fed families during the Depression. His recycling efforts were not a green activity—but a learned response to need and a lingering certainty that it made no sense to throw away something simply because it seemed to have outlived its usefulness.
Dad took that lesson to heart. He was good with his hands and learned to fix mowers and cars, to repair used appliances and broken windows, to remodel worn out rooms and turn neglected buildings into brand new apartments. Later, his efforts would turn creative: restoring player pianos, repurposing telephone poles to totems, tapping nature to make wine, trees to make syrup. He saw beauty in permanence and found pleasure in preserving pieces of the past.
After Mom developed dementia, Dad cared for her with the same tireless devotion. They were married in a time when “for better or for worse” was a promise that still meant something. Mom’s illness wasn’t a project he could fix or repair, but his commitment to her never wavered. The world sees Mom as a sad, frail woman with clouded eyes and fading memories. Thankfully, my Dad, an eighty-eight-year old son of the Carpenter, holds firmly to his faith and the legacy left by his father. He continues to see beauty and intrinsic worth in every life—even one that some would say has outlived its usefulness.