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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Able Hands, Agile Brain

My Dad repeatedly pops up in mysterious ways. If one or both of your parents are gone, what most recently brought them to mind?

Whenever men are doing any kind of carpentry around my home - provided a casual conversation presents a comfortable entree - I speak of my Dad and try to learn how long these men have been doing the work he did. I might also ask how they came to the work, where they got their training, whether their own Dads did something similar etc. Although I try not to be intrusive, I do work to prolong these conversations; men who work with their hands for a living can sometimes make my Dad seem nearby. I welcome that feeling.

In a recent interaction like this, a window finishing guy about my age was atypically talkative. I learned he's been doing the work for about forty years, got all his training on the job and that his own Father was a "railroad man". And his most revealing statement  - "If someone had told me forty years ago I'd still be doing this, I would have said they were crazy" - landed hard with me. I heard Dad express a similar sentiment many times.

Not long after that conversation ended, I also recalled something Dad said frequently to me  - "Patrick, I want you to do work that uses your brains, not your hands." I'm certain he thought that was best for me; perhaps he was right. Still, if he were here I'd try persuading him that all that talent in his hands was closely connected to his curious and agile brain.

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