Thursday, October 16, 2008

They Built Houses

They did projects together, these men of rural North Dakota. They built a 'snow plane' out of an old airplane. They built houses for each other. I remember many men on the site at different times, as they were able. The house was some sort of kit, but of course, my dad had to change things. There was cussing that was cleaned up once they realized the little girls were on site. Sometimes, I held my dad's hand as we walked from the trailer house in Grandma's yard to the place where our new house was being built. Sometimes he carried me on his shoulders. Once, when the grass was very tall, I walked behind him and watched as the grasses swished against his jeans and I held back just far enough that they almost closed between us but I stayed close enough that I never lost sight of him. I remember the smell of fresh-sawn wood. I remember pounding of hammers and the whir and whine of power saws. I remember saw horses and tool boxes and nail aprons. The house project is a joy indeed, and part of that joy is meeting the people our construction manager has selected to work on it, and during this past week, sometimes working along side them. If my dad was still among us, he would be there, working on this house, opining on the possible ways to do things, hammering and sawing and loving every minute of it. It is a joy working on this house, but it is a bit of a bittersweet joy for it makes me miss my dad, gone for 12 years now, but still present when the air is filled with the smell of sawdust and the sounds of saws and hammers.


Paddle said...

I miss your dad too. Some of my best memories of him are of working on projects with him. Every day when I leave the house, I look at the threshold of the back door and the concrete below it that he helped me pour. Every time I change the filter in the furnace I look over the sheet metal work he performed to use the old furnace shell to create the ductwork for the new furnace. Every time I turn on the light over the kitchen sink, I think of our efforts together to install those lights. The windows in the summerhouse, the roof. He was always helping to build or make something better. He would indeed be thrilled to help with our new home. I'm honored to have known him. Your efforts to make our home special honor him too.

DFV said...

The best - and most heartfelt - post I've read from you. It does my heart good to read your ruminations and realize that there's someone out there with love for ...just about everything and everyone.

Yesterday, I discovered that the suburb of Chicago I grew up in (1949-1973) - Berwyn, a prominent and predominantly Czech town in those days - now houses members of the KKK! Neighborhoods change. Thankfully, memories don't.