My grandfather’s shop was in the long shed behind his farmhouse.
Spacious and airy
It smelled always of sawdust and penetrating oil.
There were always unfinished projects on the broad tables there
Pieces of turned maple or walnut
Meant to become salad bowls or stair ballisters
But abandoned for the time being
For more urgent jobs
There were racks of dowel-rods
Stacks of two by fours
Sheets of plywood
Jars of nails and screws
A barrell-full of saw-ends
and a hundred hand tools
This place was his joy and fulfillment
Where time stopped for him
Warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
When he passed my father and uncles straightened the place up
With everything right where it belonged it looked like a museum
And the end of an age
A month before he died, we brought him back to the farm from the facility
To attend a funeral
He didn’t go into the house
But unlocked the door to his shop
And stood on the stone step outside and looked in.
He stared for five minutes without a word
And then closed the door and told us he was ready to go.