My paternal grandfather was, among many other things, a carpenter. This past Thanksgiving our family gathered at the family farm where my grandparents lived. My dad and I loaded up some of my grandfather’s tools for me to bring home.
Since arriving in my basement, I’ve found several excuses to fire up the band-saw and table saw for small projects, and cutting out pinewood derby cars for boys in our cub scout pack. That was what I intended to be using these tools for.
… but there was an unintended consequence.
Every time I look at the tools or use them in a small project, I am intensely reminded of many characteristics of my grandfather. I remember, of course, his skills, the multitude of tools hanging in his workshop, some of the very creative solutions he came up with, and the precision with which he worked. I can’t help but also think about the characteristics of his personality as well, his dedication to serving his church, his love for his family, and his laugh. I love his laugh. When I hear it in my head, I can’t help but smile.
My son Andy has taken an interest in the budding workshop in our basement. He’s coming up with his own creative solutions, seeing how to use these tools and pieces of scrap wood to make something useful. Recently he asked me, “Daddy, you got these tools from your grandfather … will I get them from you some day?”
I showed him the collection of tools that my father, Andy’s Granddaddy, has been purchasing for him, and he became very excited at the prospect of building two work benches in the basement. One for my projects, the other for Andy and his little brother to work on and store their tools.
I don’t have the practice and knowledge to claim to have the same skill at carpentry that my grandfather did (not even close), but something more intrinsic, my grandfather taught his son how to be very creative, in a MacGyver sort of way, to use whatever he had around him to solve a problem. This is a trait he passed on to his son, who passed it on to me.
My grandparents lived far enough away that I did not get to see the more than a few times a year growing up. The skills and positive traits of my grandfather, however, are deeply embedded in my own father, who, living under the same roof, I did spend a lot of time with growing up. All of those wonderful traits of my grandfather are present in him as well, and he has served as a great lens through which I can see his dad when I look at him.
More importantly than the skills and tools that I inherited from my grandfather, my Daddy and Granddaddy both modeled their faith in their daily life, which now resides in me. This inheritance is continuing. As Andy asks questions about the tools in our shop, he is also interested in how they have been used in the past, and who used them in the past. I love telling him about my memories of the adults important to my childhood.
Today is my dad’s birthday. I’m looking forward to celebrating it with him. I don’t have any great gifts to give to him, certainly nothing that can compare to the generosity and love that he has shown me all of my life. The best way I know to honor this generosity is make sure I pass it on to my sons, just as he did to me.
Happy birthday, Daddy. Thank you for passing on the love, skills, and compassion from your father to me, which ultimately came from the Father of us all, which you reflect so well.
It all started with the son of a carpenter.