Posts Tagged 'legacy'

The Legacy of a Smile and a Generous Heart

My grandfather on my dad’s side of the family passed away several years ago.  He was an amazing carpenter, who could turn wood into works of art the way other artists work with clay, paint, or any other medium.

I love to work with wood myself, but I have only a small fraction of his knowledge, skill, and craftsmanship ability.  I also have several of his tools in my basement, including the bandsaw pictured here.

This year, as in years past, I invited Cub Scouts to bring their blocks of pine wood over, draw an image on the top and side, and I would cut it out for them, then leave the finish sanding, additional carving, and painting up to them.  After an afternoon of helping out these boys, and receiving many warm thank-yous from them and their parents, I took another look at the bandsaw, and for a split second felt a little bad about it.  It is an amazing machine, hand built by my great-uncle especially for my grandfather, his big brother.  I felt a little bit small in the shadows of these two great craftsmen: one who could make anything out of metal, and the other who could make anything out of wood … and here I am making a block of wood to roughly approximate the appearance of various kinds of race cars.

The sensation didn’t last long, because I realized that I was creating something using this tool, after all.  It wasn’t a wooden masterpiece, it was smiles on all those little boys’ faces.  The two things I remember most about my grandfather are his smile and his laugh.  … and knowing his generous heart, I can see him smiling ear-to-ear because of several happy cub scouts benefitting from one of his tools, and a small fraction of skill that got passed down to me.

Sometimes it’s not the things that we do or make that are significant; instead, it is the love that we pass on through what we do.  That is the legacy that my grandfather, among others, have left for me to pass on to others.  It is a legacy with a deep faith tradition from our Creator who taught us to share love with everyone we meet.

Welcome to a new year.  Share your inheritance of Christ’s love with everyone you meet.

A Carpenter’s Legacy

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.


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