Take With You Your All

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.

Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.

Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,

The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.

For in reverie you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures.

And take with you all men:

For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself lower than their despair.

And if you would know God be not therefore a solver of riddles.

Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children.

And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain.

You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees.”

—from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran

For most of my blogging career, I’ve tried to keep certain specifics and personal details about myself, my family, friends and relationships off the blog. I mention people briefly when they fit into the context of common topics here: my brother and I went for a hike, my Mom and I made pickles, I helped a friend who wants to make a quilt, I made my cousin’s kid a gift, etc. But one person I mentioned a lot here was my Dad. In the summer, I talk a lot about the garden on my blog and he and I did that together. Then when he started up his Etsy shop for his woodworking business, I shared updates here to help promote it (and because I was so very proud of him.) In a way, you regular readers have come to know my Dad through his creations and his experiences with me. Which is why I’ve decided to share this with you here.

My Dad passed away recently at only 59 years old. It was a complete shock, very sudden and unexpected. I know people usually speak highly of the dead, perhaps more highly than when they were alive, sometimes even more highly than they deserve, but my Dad was the real deal. His death left a wide, wide wake of heartbreak and loss. Everyone who knew him liked him and it seemed like just about everyone knew him. He was kind of hard to miss, not only because he stood 6’ 7” tall but because he was respectful, friendly, jolly and a true gentleman to everyone he met. I always felt lucky to have him as my Dad. Unlike some other Dads I knew growing up, it seemed like he could fix or build anything and knew everything. As an adult, I still thought he knew just about everything. And if he didn’t know it, he had the drive and curiosity to learn it. He was a true German and believed that if you do something, you do it right so you only have to do it once. He baked bread every week. He was a very intelligent, book-smart man but still preferred being outside in the fresh air and sunshine, working with his hands.

Back in late 2012, he lost his job of 26 years. The year that followed brought a lot of fear in the uncertainty but he (and we) kept working hard and moving forward. He could have easily plopped himself on the couch with a beer but he kept himself active and productive. Like that saying goes: when one door closes, another opens. Eventually, many doors opened. Opportunities arose. Hard work paid off. Big plans were afoot around here. There was the yearly garden right around the corner. He even agreed (after many years) to let me get chickens. Two days before he died, he and I spent some time in the barn discussing where we were going to build the coop and the run. Like usual, I was as full of questions as a four-year old. Very often I’d apologize for asking so many damn questions. His patient response? Well, that’s the only way you’re gonna learn.(I think I was always trying to make up for all the times I didn’t pay attention as a kid.) His new woodworking business was finally getting its footing. While I was in the barn, he also showed me some of the new projects he started, so glad the weather was warming up enough to be out in his shop. He told me a bit about how he might insulate the shop so he could work year round. I lovingly nagged him about when he was going to get to work on my yarn swift.  We dug through scraps of wood and talked about wraps per inch tools (a suggestion from Lori.) He made up a dozen the next day. Then morning of the day he died, he oiled them. I even snapped a photo of it, seen above.

For a while, I was feeling small about the fact that I was in my late twenties and still living home with my parents. But now I realize that meant I was able to see my Dad very nearly every single day. And over the last few years we really bonded. I’m honored to say that he wasn’t only my Dad but my friend. There is a large, gaping hole in my life, and in all the lives he touched. It’s going to be really bittersweet doing things I love without him. People have asked if I’m doing or feeling any better and I have to answer honestly, that I’m not better, just different. Everyday is different as I learn to live without him. It’s not as raw as that first week, but it still hurts like hell. Myself and my family are all determined to take a page from my Dad’s book and keep moving. The garden will be planted, things will be mended and built, I’ll get chickens (maybe not this year but someday) we will stumble our way through learning to bake bread, we will continue with our daily lives and take with us our all.

My Dad’s shop, Buckaloo View, is closed but you can browse the sold items or the portfolio or Facebook to get examples of his work. My plan is to start blogging regularly again the first week in April. I have a handful of posts that I planned on doing earlier that were only a couple of edits away from publication. The normalcy and routine of blogging might do me some good. Until then, I’ll leave you with this song by Chris Thile, which makes me think of my Dad.