Tuesday, I got a call from my father, back in Wisconsin, that he was coming down the next day to hangout in my shop for the day. Which, though we get to visit and go on trips together, there has only been one other time just he and I spent time in “my” space. Kinda weird, but very cool. My father is getting older, and I love him very much, we have a great relationship full of pride and respect. As his son, most of my life I saw him as the one who always knew stuff and knew how to make anything. I wanted to know stuff and make anything, so my Father has had great impact in my life. For a man who supported me in my education and career… AND all my weirdness… and helped me when I needed it … even came to another city to get my young, drunk, violent butt from a police station. I respect him.
(My father and I discussing making wands for the Wiccan Community)
Today, I realized that now not only do I get to teach him, but prove to him what I have become. Getting to work in my huge open studio vs his rather dark basement shop was a great experience for us both. He helped me rough out stock for 3 maple wine boxes. A few times he was “Dad knows this”, but my experience somehow over shadowed his tips and helps. An odd feeling there. My father still knows a whole lot, and I hope to glean every bit of knowledge from his brain pan… but today he was all about me, my studio, and my current projects. He made several comments about how I know more about fine woodworking than he does, that he is great at “roughing out stuff.” I reminded him that he gave me the foundation of “roughing” it out so I could achieve what I am today. My father made rifles and guns from scratch. He built homes and structures, roofing, and siding. He knows forests and survival techniques, he understands science and mythology. He is a machinist and and engineer and an artisan himself. Everything I know, all my skills, started with him. But he is proud I worked my way through 8 years of art school. Proud that I intrinsically know art and design. Proud that we can talk about love… and physics. Proud that I can know and make what ever I want.
I got to show him details about using the joiner and bandsaw. He helped me with a old craftsmen tool and motor I am setting up as a shaper. I got to show him fine nuances of wood grain and tear out. We cut apart, carved and discussed wood pieces I have been drying or saving for years. Discussed moisture content vs wood burning… I showed him my sharpening system and habits. We chatted all day, went to lunch, and when it came time to leave the studio, I could tell he found it hard to go back to wisconsin. Time just flew by.
I wish that life had not lead me to another city, but I would not be where I am had I not moved away from home. My only sadness is that, my father is no longer as able to come and work with me often. He wants me to be all that I can, and understand how this world freaks me out with it’s cruelty and anger (especially at us gay folks) and why I hide in my studio most of the time. But he called when he got home around 9:30 pm to tell me it was one of the best days he has had in years and the he is even more proud of me. This morning I feel good.
-- the sacrifice of one's ego is the greatest gift to someone you respect