When I met my father-in-law, in March of 1998, I recognized immediately that meeting him was, indeed, a privilege. At 73 years young, this man, Bud to his family and friends, was still a “doer.” Sitting still was not his forte. He had retired ten years earlier, and had not missed a beat of life since.
His garden was his primary labor of love, and I have written before on what a wonderful gardener he was. His quilting was another labor of love which kept him out of my mother-in-law’s hair during those winter months when Mother Nature made working in the garden impossible in South Carolina. He was an avid fisherman and took every opportunity to go fishing with a friend. As he outlived each of his friends, their surviving spouses gave Bud their husband’s favorite fishing pole. When Bud passed away this summer, his collection of friends, evidenced by his collection of fishing poles, was a clear testament to a wonderful man.
But it was the tiny rocking chairs Bud carved from scraps of wood which caught my fancy. Yes, in the summer and winter alike, when his labor for the day was done, he’d sit in a chair, in the yard or in the basement, and carve these wonders. Some of the rocking chairs he made were so tiny that he was able to make them into earrings for my mother-in-law.
Each piece of each chair was carved with his trusty pocket knife and then assembled with the care of a skilled furniture maker. His joints were dovetailed. Each rocking chair rocked freely and drew the eye to the tiniest dimension of its movement.
And what did he do with all these chairs? He had been carving them for many years, and every one went into a basket or a barrel, until the container overflowed. When he made a friend, someone he really liked, he’d head down to the basement, and bring them back a chair. When I met him, he gave me one. My husband let me know right away, that this was a very good sign. His father did not give them to just anyone!
A couple of years ago, I asked if he would mind if I offered his chairs for sale on eBay. He was flattered. I laughed! Flattered? Well, I listed them and here and there people bought the chairs. Each and every customer wrote glowing remarks in their feedback and also sent email explaining how lovely they were and how they had used them, which I shared with Bud. It was clear that this simple man was truly happy that others enjoyed his creations. Each time we visited, he gave me another basket of the chairs. The supply seemed limitless.
When Bud passed away this summer, I considered removing the chairs from my store. I asked my mother-in-law what she thought. At first she thought she wanted me to hold onto what I had, as she thought there were no more in the basement, but a couple of weeks ago she found another couple of bushel baskets of the chairs, and told me to go ahead and keep selling what I had. Last week I sold about fifteen of the chairs to different customers. Today I received feedback, again, glowing. It occurred to me that even as Bud’s life on earth has passed, he still ROCKS ON through his careful attention to his creation of art.