The irony of it all was; all I could concentrate on was my current situation. That was the fact that my father was in Intensive Care fighting for his life.
My sister walked with me down the hall to the ICU unit in the hospital to see my father for the first time since his accident the day before. As best she could, she had tried to prepared me for what I was about to see.
He had several broken bones and to make matters worse a face full of stitches and two black eyes.
I had just got off the phone with Karson.
That news he had called me with wasn’t much better.
Marks memorial, “The Heavenly Flight”, had arrived shattered and broken. Several pieces of glass were cracked, fractured, broken or had just fallen out.
I remember saying while I still had him on the phone, “Oh no! Well I’ll just have to build a new one”.
Not only did I face time constraints, I was sure that I would run short of the specific glass I had chosen for Mark’s memorial. Also, I had shipped the one and only and original drawing to Karson.
Karson understood, and agreed to ship the original drawing back.
Because of all that was going on at the time and the fact I was standing outside my father’s room it’s all a bit of a blur now.
I told Karson that I would likely be making a new panel rather than attempting to repair the damaged one. Considering the time that it would take to return the panel, and the likely shortage of glass, there comes a point in repairing stained glass windows where the time to do so, exceeds that of building a new one.
Although I had insured the panel for the cost of the materials, I knew that there would likely be a lengthy insurance claim process. I didn’t want to delay the memorial project because I felt a timely memorial was important.
The remainder of my day was an emotional roller coaster. The doctors and staff had prepared us for the worse regarding my father. We all hoped for the best but were preparing for the worse. Each family member was only allowed five minutes with dad. We also needed to limit the total amount of time. The time had finally come for each of us to say our goodbyes; we had no idea if this goodbye was for the day or forever.
This moment will never be forgotten and is etched in my mind and remains as fresh and raw today as it was at that time.
I walked alone down the hall as the rest of my family said goodbye. I found a empty seat off to the side in the hallway and sat down. The tears started to roll off my face, like rain off a hard road surface.
Both my father and the memorial piece lay fractured and broken. I saw some irony in this. The combined affect had extracted its toll. I was drained. All I could do was pray for my dad, and go home and rebuild another memorial, but I knew I was helpless to rebuild my father.
The trip home with my brother was almost in complete silence.
I needed to go home and start on the project for my own peace-of-mind and what I hoped would be a symbol of my father’s resurrection.
The only question was, could they both be saved, the panel that lay in Karson’s shop and my father who lay in the intensive care unit of the hospital. I had no idea the outcome of either. I would do what was in my control to assure the outcome of the memorial panel. My father’s restoration was in much better and talented hands than mine.
That thought gave me some comfort.
I arrived home and looked at the pictures that Karson had emailed me showing the shipping damage to the panel. There was no question in my mind that that the only real option in the time we had available was to completely rebuild the piece.
This meant starting over from scratch. I knew this would be challenging, however I was ready to take this challenge head on.
The first obstacle to over come was to call Karson and have him ship back the original drawing so I could start over on the new piece. The fact that this would take a few days weighed heavy on my mind. I wanted to get started as soon as possible.
I needed to for my own sanity. I had to keep my mind occupied on something besides my fathers condition.
In the back of my mind was another worry. I was very aware that I would be short glass to rebuild the same piece. One of the problems with building original pieces is just this. I had enough glass for the first piece and some excess for minor repairs at best.
I had chosen some very special and unique glass for the memorial piece. All the glass chosen had either a very special story behind it or a special meaning.
The majority of the glass, the portion making up the main theme of the panel, had come from glass salvaged from a very famous church. The more I looked at my existing inventory the more apparent it became how short I would be.
I had a picture of the final project on my computer. I pulled the picture up and displayed it on my laptop. It became very evident that I would run short of one of the primary pieces of glass that I used for the rays as well as some of the other key pieces in the project.
The more I studied the project, the more convinced I was that the glass shortage would force me to redesign and redraw a lot of the project. Because Karson had the original and time was of the essence, I decided to redesign and draw a new panel and cartoon.
I just started drawing again.
I had sent Karson several pictures of the first panel and one of them showed the project with light shining through the panel from my light box. He made a comment at the time, “that really looks like clouds behind the dove”. I pointed out that it really was the light that he was seeing shining through the panel.
I remembered this comment and felt this time around, as long as I had to redesign and redraw the project, I would try hard to make the background behind the Dove look more like a “hole in the sky” and “live clouds”.
It is not uncommon for me when I build furniture, especially when it’s something new or a bit more complicated, to build a prototype. I find this very helpful and a good way to make changes before I build the final project.
In stained glass work this is much more difficult, not only because of the much higher cost of the glass but also the time it takes. Once the glass is cut and used in a piece it is, for all practical purposes, not able to be used for anything else.
Utilizing the existing resources and time I had to complete this project, I made several small changes to the project and drawing, keeping as close to the original theme and drawing as I possibly could.
I really hoped the new panel would be at least as good as the first one. I wasn’t at all sure and was feeling quite anxious about this. Never-the-less, I moved ahead with the project.
Before long I had a new cartoon redrawn and transferred to the old cartoon that was used when fitting the previous panel. This was no easy task. I knew that each and every piece would now have to be cut without a pattern and with only a rough guild from my new print. Without “a blue print” to follow, each piece would have to be custom fit and ground. This is not the preferred way to do any cartoon because of all the variables. It tends to cause fitting problems and can add hours to the final assembly.
However, I simply had no choice and was committed to rebuilding a new piece and getting the project back on-track. Although I was well aware of the work that was ahead of me, it was irrelevant. I was determined to finish this, whatever it was going to take.
I worked on the new panel almost non-stop for two and a half days. Each step of the way was like being in the dark. Without a set of “plans”, patterns and a scale cartoon I was left to mostly hand fitting.
Perhaps a better way to describe this process is to think of a project like building a hutch without any plans, dimensions, scales, pictures or notes. Imagine starting out from scratch and building this to its completion.
To say this was a challenge is a understatement. The good news for me was that I had designed, drawn and built the first piece, so I knew what I wanted. It helps to be able to visualize the end results.
I kept Karson and a few others informed about the progress. However, I had really restricted my pictures and new design to only a few people. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if it would turn out or even work, let alone how it would compare to the first panel.
In the meantime, I had received several pictures and updates of the frame Karson had designed and built. There was no way I could describe what he had done. Words simply escaped me to describe what the frame looked like and what a beautiful and creative job he had done.
I really began to feel very self conspicuous about the new project piece and was worried that it would fall far short of expectations.
Never-the-less, I forged ahead the best I could with the panel. I finished the total project in a little over four days.
I emailed Karson the final pictures and hoped that he would approve.
Only time would tell, what his reaction and that of others would be. For the time-being, all I could do was hope and pray.
Considering the fragile status of my dad who was still in the hospital, this was a very familiar feeling.
Once again I couldn’t help but think about the irony.
Some things, particularly when they are fragile, are better just left alone.
Leaving his care in the hands of other people, I had to trust the outcome. I would have to do the same with this memorial project for Mark; trust that others would see the caring that all of LumberJocks had placed in this project.
Only time would reveal the result, for now I had to let go.