Our daughter asked her dad to make a bookcase for our first grandchild, due Aug. 4.
John loves woodworking and, over the years, has become quite good at it, so he was more than glad to dive into designing and building a bookcase to match the nursery furniture Erin has chosen.
Watching him work, knowing how much he enjoys it, always reminds me of my dad, who was truly a master builder. Daddy could visualize a project, sketch it out on paper, and have it half built before anyone else could decide what kind of wood to use. He never bought plans or worked from a kit. He just built from scratch, and the results were absolutely amazing.
I'll never forget one day when my mother was standing in our kitchen and just said, "I sure wish this house had a broom closet."
Daddy smiled, "How big do you want it?"
Mama looked peeved, "You know. Big enough for all my cleaning supplies, but there's no place for one here."
Daddy chuckled and walked down to his basement workshop. A moment later he was back with a sledge hammer. And a moment after that there was a huge hole in the kitchen wall that went straight through to the garage. Mama was stunned.
By the next day Daddy had built a closet with hooks to hang all the cleaning tools and shelves for all the supplies. He had also created custom storage spaces for the ironing board and iron, the wastebasket, and all of Mama's cookbooks. He even custom made a door for the closet and finished it to perfectly match the kitchen cabinets, so it looked as if it had always been there.
When I was in junior high, Daddy added a bedroom in the basement of our house for my older brother and outfitted it with a private shower and custom storage for all of Roy's auto mechanic stuff. These days it would be called a man cave. Just being down there away from his sisters, Roy was in heaven.
And so was I, because it meant that I got to have his former room, and for the first time in my life, I had a room of my own. I also got a new bed with a red velvet tufted headboard. I was so excited. I told Daddy the only thing missing to make it my dream room was a dressing table. I hoped he would buy me one.
The next day I left for 10 days of summer camp. When I returned, a perfect white dressing table with curved top and beautiful turned legs was waiting in my new room. But Daddy hadn't bought it; he had built it. This time it was me who was stunned.
One Christmas, Daddy made my mother an upholstered sewing stool with a top that opened to reveal velvet pin cushions, wooden lift-out trays with pegs for spools of thread, and stretchable straps to hold scissors and other notions. He did all the work himself - the design, the carpentry, even the upholstery. That was nearly 50 years ago, but Mama still has that stool, and she still uses it every time she sits down to sew. I know it will stay in our family forever - a treasured keepsake.
The point of all of this is not just that Daddy was an artisan, or that we all enjoyed the benefits of his handiwork. The point is that the things he built were special, not just because they were beautiful and expertly made. They were special because they were made with love, for the people he loved, just like the bookcase John is making for our granddaughter.
It's made out of wood, but more importantly, it's made out of love.