This is what’s left of a gift from my dad. He bought me the entire set of encyclopedia books, but this is the only thing I kept after Google came into being. Partly because I’m a word geek, but mainly because of the inside note you see here with his handwriting. 1968. These items will never be found in a landfill. Treasures.
My dad was a cabinet maker.
Probably self-taught. Probably out of necessity. He built pine cabinetry for various family members’ homes. His mother’s kitchen was outfitted with some of his handiwork if I remember correctly. Our own kitchen as well as the two other rental homes he owned also featured his kitchen cabinets.
Functional, no-frills, not one ornate feature.
One could describe the entire B.T. Krisher family that way.
Daddy enjoyed working with all types of wood but walnut was his favorite. He really appreciated the dark rich tones, textures and patterns in the grain. And since he also loved his wife and daughters and family he built several things for each of us out of walnut lumber. Desks, a little wall cabinet with shelf, book case. I can say with certainty that none of these pieces of furniture would have been considered HGTV worthy. But they were beautiful to his family. We loved them. Because we loved him.
I was looking inside the doors of my wall cabinet just a couple weeks ago and discovered that the sliding door panels were made of strips of wood held together with red duct tape. Red. Duct. Tape. 😁 Bear in mind that it was built in the 1960’s. The tape still holds.
The bookends pictured at the top of this post are my favorite of his handmade gifts to me. And, yes, there is red duct tape on the inside of the bookends.
The desks have all for the most part fallen to pieces. Mine is propped up against a wall in our family room with the wall cabinet sitting on top of it. Two of the desk legs are what you might call fractured beyond repair. If there were a mild gust of wind in my family room the whole set-up would collapse. My heart won’t let me get rid of it. My fingers almost wouldn’t even type the last four words of the previous sentence.
Some of the best times of my childhood were spent in that workshop behind the house. Just Daddy and me. As daughter number 4 and the last failed chance for him to finally get a son, he included me in most all of his woodworking projects. Holding the lumber while he used the table saw or circular saw, holding the end of the tape measure, bringing him tools, helping him clamp and glue.
Speaking of time…today I bought a new clock for our living room. As I was unpacking and inspecting it, a long-forgotten memory flooded my mind.
My dad once built a little clock for our home. Out of walnut. He crafted a 12″ square piece of walnut and polished it up nicely then took the guts from an old clock to use for the mechanical part. No duct tape was used this time. And the clock worked. I had it in my childhood bedroom on top of my desk. I haven’t seen it for years, have no idea at all where it ended up. Hadn’t given it a thought until today.
It was one of the last projects he tackled before he passed away. It was a clock, yes, but today it occurred to me that it was more likely he was wishing he could give us time. Which, with his leukemia, was something he was unable to do. Our time together was oh so short. A clock was as close as he could come. A reminder of the precious nature of time.
I’m not sure why this memory waited until now to come to me. But I do know it’s Christmas season.
Many of us are making attempts to fulfill our children’s “hopes and dreams” with the purchase of some trendy item that will end up in the back of a toybox somewhere, forgotten quickly.
Or we’re struggling to find a gift for that older parent who has “everything”.
Let me offer the best suggestion ever. Give them yourself. Give them time with you.
When it’s all said and done and you’re looking back at the years that have passed I can completely guarantee from experience you’ll wish you had more time.