Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life As a House

About 8 years ago, there was a movie out called "Life As a House." (I apologize ahead of time if you saw the R-rated theater version: I saw the sanitized-for-TV copy.) The plot revolved around a man who had made a mess of his life, leaving a son and ex-wife in the wake of its destruction. Upon receiving a terminal diagnosis, he decided to tear down the ramshackle house his father left him, and rebuild it with the help of his family. I'm sure you are following the metaphor of rebuilding the house here. Our homes and our lives are so completely intertwined.

I've thought a lot about the connection between home and life since I lost D. He did an amazing amount of custom woodwork on our home. There are a few projects he had planned that he was not able to finish. Some of the plans I retrieved from the trash can in his office. After his terminal diagnosis, he cleaned his desk off. I cannot even begin to imagine what it was like for him to literally throw some of his dreams away.  I've decided the best way to honor him, for now, is to have those projects completed. The biggest one is a set of oak bookcases on either side of the fireplace. The smaller ones include some woodwork around the windows, and some unfinished plant stands. But first? I have got to control the chaos of clutter that I have allowed to take over my home.

I was determined to finish cleaning out D's office today. I've decided to use it to house all the paperwork and bills, so I need to get it back in order. I spent most of the morning cleaning the wood floors and shelves, and began dusting the furniture from the legs up. I turned over a small side table D made years ago to remove some cobwebs and underneath the tabletop I found written: "Made for R by D with love in 2002". Well. Long cry followed by search of underside of all furniture in entire home. I didn't find any more inscriptions, but I found even more appreciation of how well his furniture pieces are made. This particular table was made at a workshop where he was taught wood construction using antique tools and no nails: only joinery. It is beautiful, classic and timeless.

I may have mentioned a time or twenty that D was somewhat of a perfectionist when it came to details. He was also very particular about his tools. Young Son told me recently when he was growing up and needed to borrow a screwdriver or something from D's tool table in the garage, he would stand there for long minutes memorizing the order of the various tools. He knew the borrowed item needed to be replaced in the exact location it had come from. To the inch.

I've looked at some of the unfinished projects and wondered it I could do some of the work myself. Then I am reminded of the "Big Book" holder D made for my classroom. I just wanted something slapped together from scrap wood. What I got is a book holder that my great, great grandchildren will be able to use should they decide to go into elementary education. I'm pretty sure that I cannot even begin to achieve that level of excellence in finishing his projects.

I'll find the right person (or persons) to help me finish these projects. I have D's carefully created CAD plans that should help guide my helpers to complete his work with his vision. And I'm hoping that the completion of these shelves, windows, frames, plant stands etc. will bring some finality to our house. And to life. A life that was lived with excellence.


Lynn said...

What a great idea! A way to honor the memory of a man well loved. I'm blessed by how you are sharing your journey and I know it will be helpful to someone 'out there' who is walking the same path or will in the near future. We have no idea how God will use our painful journey to help
someone. What a blessing to have physical evidence in your home of how he loved you! I have a small item J made for me way back in 1972. He took a small piece of material and carved into it "I love you" and dated it. It is a treasure to me.

susan said...

if you are looking for a craftsman to bring Dave's drawings & dreams to life, I would recommend Will Moore (869-4197). He lives in Georgetown and is a very accomplished woodworker - a perfectionist when it comes to his craft. and a really nice guy!

Melissa said...

HI! Will Moore, as Susan mentioned, is wonderful. He's Bryant's uncle.
He certainly creates pieces to D's standards.