Friday, October 28, 2016

Out in the workshop...

To keep a promise I'd made to my father when we last saw him in Madrid,Jude and I visited the US starting in late summer.  We were there for six weeks.  Four of those weeks were spent with my father fulfilling my promise to help him clean out some of my mother's many things.

When we were thinking through all the details of what we wanted to accomplish easily distracted us from looking forward to enjoying our time there.  After all, the task appeared daunting.  We had one room in the house, a medium sized workshop area in the garage, and an entire wall and floor area also in the garage to go through and clear out.

My mother passed some years back and my father hasn't had the energy nor desire to go through her things and to find new homes for all of it.  After we arrived I could see why.  Whether anyone wanted to admit it or not, my mother was something of a hoarder.  The room in the house was filled with dolls, teddy bears, and doll furniture.  Her shop area was filled with doll body part molds, kilns for firing ceramics, and supplies that could've stocked a hobbyist's store.  The garage was literally stacked to the rafters with plastic tubs filled with things that'd followed my parents north when my father retired.  This was a much bigger task than I feared.

One of my father's goals was to be able spend time out in his own shop making musical instruments.  My mother's things weighed on his mind.  It was such a big thing to take care of that I'm sure my father felt like the whole thing was simply too much.  He'd already identified the things he wanted to remember his wife by and had already set those things into a display area in a way that pleased him.  Even now, he is devoted to the memory of my mother in a way that shows he still feels a deep bond with her.

Fortunately, my brother Conrad came up from Napa to lend a hand.  He stayed with us for 10 days.  At times I wasn't sure there was enough time in the schedule to get everything done.  But with my brother there we were able to muscle everything that needed to be muscled and a large part of the task was completed.  Before he left, we stuffed a 15foot UHaul box van to the roof with my mother's things and took them to a local hospice thrift store as a donation.

After Conrad headed south to home and hearth Jude and I were able to continue on.  I was able to sell a few things of value and we were able to have the hospice thrift store van back up to the door and haul the remainder of the to be donated items.

My daily routine included going over to my father's place and knocking on the door, poking my head in, and saying "Hey Pops, are you there?"  If he was, I was greeted by his two schnauzers.  They'd come over and say "hi" and I go to try and find their keeper.  If the dog greeters weren't there I knew my father was in his shop working on guitars or ukuleles.  Very often he was doing the very thing he said he wanted to do.  My mother's things were no longer weighing on him they way they used to.

Over the course of the month Jude and I watched has he built a tenor ukulele.  It's for my wife and when my father has finished it he'll send it to her.  It was quite the experience to see a brand new instrument take shape.  It was amazing to see how my father makes all the not-so-small decisions that go into the making of something so beautiful.

Watching my father build a ukulele was, of course, only one of the highlights of visiting him.  There were other enjoyable things, too.  Before we knew it, it was time for Jude and I to make our way north to Portland for our son's wedding.

I expected that saying "goodbye" to my father would be difficult.  The parting was made easier when he said "I'll see you next spring in Europe!"

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