Totally exhausted the previous evening and before I headed to bed I had taken some pictures and emailed a progress report to Karson, asking him to be kind in his criticism. It had been a long day.
The next morning I called Karson and his wonderful wife Linda answered the phone. She was so kind and supportive of the project. Karson had showed her the pictures along with a few other people. They all were encouraging and supportive.
That certainly made it easier to start the task of final fitting the next day. They will never know how that gave me the jump start I needed. Those encouraging works gave me my fuel to propel forward with the final phase of the project.
I had run out of gas, and now my tank was full again.
The final fitting of any panel is always a crap shoot. It can vary with every project. Each has its own personality. What I mean by this is, one never knows until the work is started as to how the final fit will go. Some projects have to be fought every inch while others seem to assemble themselves. Worse yet, there is no way to determine which project will “act” in a certain way.
Welcome to the craft of stained glass.
There is no set way one can predict how long any given project with take.
I have come up with and use as a general guideline which only gives me a rough estimate of determine how long a project should take. This guideline can vary considerably however I have found this to be helpful with planning. I usually count up all the pieces and add one hour for every piece. This comes close to the time required for cutting, layout, assembly, and welding, soldering and final finish. Of course, any design work and anything else you do outside of actual construction add to the overall time.
There are forty seven pieces in this project. I was keeping a daily journal of not only my personal experiences I was tracking my time to test the theory and accuracy of my formula. Thus far I had sixty three hours involved. This confirmed and seemed to be right on track for my estimate as to how long it would take.
Regardless, time was irrelevant to me. If it would of taken five years to build I would of did it. Mark would in my mind protest all the fuss, however he deserved so much more than I could possible do for him and his family.
I was trying my best. In the end that is all he ever wanted from himself and other Lumberjocks as he gently coached them and provided his encouraging words and greetings as Lumberjocks ambassador.
I always thought as a early member he set the tone for this community which continues today of which is referred to often.
I was well aware of needing to move the project forward and take advantage of the time I had off for the holidays. I knew this project had to be timely and moved from idea to completion as quickly as possible, because of the nature of the memorial and the fact Karson also needed time to build and fit the frame.
I still was working two jobs and knew my time would be limited after the holidays.
I got up early the following morning and began the tedious job of grinding and fitting stained glass. Grinding is akin to sanding. It has to be done but is often tedious and certainly not my favorite part of the project. However like sanding can make or break the appearence of a project, grinding the glass to fit will determine a lot of the appearance and outcome of the project.
For the most part this panel went together like most do that have a lot of curves. In other words, it pretty much was a fight all the way.
That is one of the traits of stained glass, you can’t be impatience and it will take whatever time it takes regardless of the urgency. I worked 15 hours straight and finally finished my last piece at 9 pm that evening.
Exhausted, I quit for the day. I sent updates to Karson, feeling unsure of how the project would be received. I was concerned that it might fall far short of expectations. I knew I had put my heart and passion into this project, but I didn’t know if that would be enough to carry it.
Time would tell.
I hit the send button and took a shower before getting some rest.
I knew that another long day was awaiting me the next day when I would begin welding and soldering up the project.
I awoke early, ready to start soldering the panel. I couldn’t wait to get started, but I really found myself struggling with thoughts about the adequacy of this memorial project for a wonderful man like Mark.
I had to stay focused which wasn’t always easy.
In my heart of hearts, I struggled with the feeling that this project was in no way worthy of what Mark has represented to so many others. However, I was comfortable with the passion and pure desire of my heart in trying to convey my sincere feeling about how much he meant to so many of us. I simply had to accept that Mark would know our intentions and being the humble man he was, understand.
I was then able to move forward.
I began welding the panel and completed that part of the project several hours later.
Again, exhausted, I took progress pictures, e-mail an update to Karson and quit for the day.
I then answered several messages from other Lumberjocks who were involved in trying to come up with ideas how we could make this an ongoing way to memorialize Mark, as well as to continue into the future benefiting the Lumberjocks site.
The logistics for this were being refined and now all that had to be done was to approach Martin.
MsDebbieP had been involved with the ongoing discussion all along and would be our sounding board and logical liaison person to approach Martin with this idea. This she did obtaining Martin’s commitment to take this idea under consideration, promising to get back to us in a few days with his response.
During this period there was uncertainty and a lot of anxiety. I knew this would be a difficult decision and needed to be a well thought out process for Martin. His integrity and reputation is at stake and he would have to carefully consider all sides.
Regardless, we moved ahead on the project because whatever Martins decision, I had decided I would take the project and sell it if needed and donate to Lumberjocks anonymously in Marks name.
I sincerely hoped Martin would allow us to use the ideas we had as an ongoing way to memorialize others in the future.
I got home from my early morning job and found a message from MsDebbieP. Simply stating, we had the green light from Martin and his outline about how he wanted it handled. It had to be done with integrity, sensitivity and safeguards.
I was relieved that all these issues were resolved and the concept would become part of Lumberjocks.
I went back to work on the project. My Christmas and New Years break was beginning to run short and I knew I soon had to return to work and wouldn’t have a lot of time to work on the project.
I finished up the project and was planning to ship it out Saturday January 5, 2008.
A good friend of mine, who lived four doors down the street from me, had been following this project with interest. He was the person who had bought and helped with the “This Old Mold House” project. Although not a Lumberjock himself, he was very aware of several of the projects and various Lumberjocks that I had been keeping in touch with over the last year.
He was very taken back and had been touched from all the outpouring of the Lumberjocks regarding the passing of Mark. He was very aware of this project being a memorial for Mark.
I had completed the stained glass panel and had it sitting on my work bench drying from being cemented which gives the panel its rigidity and lasting protection. All that remained now was the shipping. He had occasion to visit me and inquired how I planed on shipping the piece. I told him I wasn’t sure yet I needed to contact Karson.
He then offered to pay for the shipping as his small gesture towards the memorial because he was so taken back by the Lumberjocks genuine outpouring of support for this memorial.
He stared at the panel and the pictures of Karson’s frame in awe of his work. He was truly touched.
Working for a major airline, he has an employee benefit that allows substantial discounts for shipping with FedEx. As his small jester towards this project, he insisted that he pay the shipping cost and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
We agreed to meet the next morning take the panel to FedEx Kinko’s for final shipment. I prepared the documents for shipment. This at MsDebbieP urging would include a signed drawing. I decided to include the signed original drawing with the panel. This was done so whoever won the drawing would have the one and only drawing of this project.
In my mind, there was only one Mark. I felt this was a fitting tribute to him.
I built a packing crate out of ¼ inch oak paneling that had a heavy duty oak frame.
I enclosed a few other small things and a final farewell I had written to Mark as a memory and closed the case.
This was a very emotional moment for me. Tears streamed down my cheek as I closed the shipping case I realized I was saying good bye to Mark for the last time.
I stood in silence staring at the crate with Marks memory panel inside. I stood and reflected for a few minutes until my friend arrived to take me to FedEx Kinko’s.
He picked me up at two thirty to go to FedEx Kinko’s. I felt a sense of relief that that project was done. I wanted the project to be done in a timely fashion and to allow ample time for Karson to prepare his frame. I was happy to have taken part of this memorial project and excited to be shipping the project that day.
The ride was a quiet one; my friend sensed my somber mood.
FedEx Kinko’s is about 10 miles from my home. Half way there he broke the silence and asked where we were sending the panel. At that moment it hit me like falling rain, I didn’t have the address with me.
I felt so stupid. I confessed this and offered my apologies to him. We turned around to go back home to get the address. He never said a word he seemed to understand.
I felt relieved. It occurred me to I was struggling to let go of Mark.
I guess I was, even though I knew he was in a much better place in my mind.
We had already missed the FedEx pickup for that day, so the project wouldn’t go out until Monday morning. Therefore, we decided to ship it second day air.
I watched as the attendant packed the crate. I insisted several times that he include more packing material and be careful with this panel as it was fragile and special.
He looked at me like “Dude I do this for a living, get off my back”. Although he was professional I was going to err on the safe side and be over cautious. He seemed annoyed at all the fuss.
My buddy filled out the shipping documents, we paid and left.
I then went home and e-mailed Karson all the shipping details. I had been feeling under the weather and frankly was exhausted from all the hours I had spent in the shop so I decided to take a nap and prepare myself mentally to return to work the next day.
What a drag this would be and how I was dreading this after such a nice long stretch off work.
Monday morning came and back to the grind. I was still feeling a bit under the weather and awoke felling tired. I called Karson and told him about the shipping and to watch for the package.
I was swamped at work all day so the just day shot by. My phone rang at five thirty in the afternoon. I was still in my office. It was my mother. My father had had a bad accident and had fallen off the roof while raking snow. He had been taken to the hospital via ambulance and was being stabilized for transport to a much larger trauma-two hospital.
I knew things weren’t good. All I could do was to wait, pray and hope. I did a lot of praying, waiting for any word of his condition.
I got a call that he would be transferred to another hospital and as soon as they knew anything they would call me.
I never slept another wink that night.
After a sleepless night in bed, I went to work. It was all I could do until they called. I was unable to be with him because of the distance and the fact that they wouldn’t allow anyone, not even immediate family, to accompany the transfer. At that point, the final destination had not even been decided.
In short, I was a wreck inside but somehow held my composure. I felt so helpless and vulnerable.
Silence and prayers were my only comfort. All I had to do was wait for word.
And wait some more.
The phone rang. It was my sister. She updated me on dad’s condition. It didn’t sound good.
I called my brother and we made arrangements to meet and drive up to the hospital. They said we could see my father after one o’clock and would be allowed five minutes an hour to visit.
My brother and I met in a nearby town on the way. We pretty much sat in silence the whole trip to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital parking lot and were walking up to the main entry when I noticed I had missed a phone call. It was Karson. He had just called one minute before. I hadn’t even heard the phone ring.
He had left a message, but I didn’t take time to listen to it. I called him back directly because my cell said “missed call Karson”.
I called him right back to give him an update. I hadn’t seen my father yet, and didn’t know what to expect other than I had been informed he had several broken bones.
He listened as I updated him on what I had been told about dad’s condition as I walked towards the front door of the hospital.
He was very subdued and tried to comfort me. He also had news for me. The news wasn’t good.
At that moment, I stood at the front door frozen and numb. Helpless, I responded the best I could at the time.
I remember saying two things. One of which was, “Oh no!”
That response somehow seemed so inadequate.
This was a very familiar feeling for me at this moment. Suddenly I went numb from disbelief! I was overwhelmed at this moment which coincided with my sister greeting me at the front door at the hospital.
She didn’t look good, nor did I at that moment, I’m sure.
I said goodbye to Karson, and took my sisters hand, as we walked she talked, with tears running down her cheek.
As were mine.
To be continued here