It’s 1982, maybe 1983. Imagine walking down the steps on Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s house to discover a giant, many times the size of you, sheet covered mass that very closely resembles a house. Imagine the excitement that results in two cousins bouncing like ping-pong balls around the room until they were able to pull those sheets off. Only to pull those sheets off to find nirvana for a four, maybe five-year old. Our. Very. Own. No siblings allowed. Play. House. Just. For. Us.
I adored that house. As the youngest in my family, never to own my own, I’m pretty sure I slept in it. Behind me I am pretty sure I notice a mountain of my very own friends in that house. I note the dress and tights and blonde, blonde hair and height that requires ducking under the frame of that door. That self of mine might remind me of another four, soon to be five-year old.
My new favorite place in the world was a gift crafted from the hands that carved the cradle my sister, brother, and I slept in. That crafted the cradle that my dolls slept in and the high chair I fed them in. That crafted the medicine cabinet my grape Tylenol came from. That crafted that shelf you see on the edges of this memory. That crafted the step stool I used to reach my highest bookshelf.
I used to sneak down the stairs around the corner of the laundry room down the dark narrow hallway that would have normally scared me. But I knew what was at the end. A wonderful world of sawdust in the air and on the floor. A wonderful world of smells and tools and the wonderful man who created and crafted in that world. From that workshop came the best memories of my childhood.
The house was long ago disassembled and tragically warped in a garage leak that somehow managed to ruin all chances of re-assembly. I’m sad when I think back about the memories and sheer exhilaration that house brought to my life, that the craftsman’s great-granddaughter does not get to experience the same. Then I take a look around my life.
I remember running my fingers along the intricately carved finials of the cradle that sat next to my bed for three months. I smile at the image of an already tall four-year old needing the step stool with the carved “Kimberly” to reach the extra tall sink. I rock the baby doll and lay her in the cradle adorned with a faded teddy bear blanket while we sing her a lullaby. I dispense cherry Tylenol from the still hanging medicine cabinet. And on that shelf in the corner of a room not far from the one above, sits pictures of the craftsman and his greatest loves. His family.
All around us is his perfectly crafted legacy.