My dad always wanted to build a cabin. Get away from the busy city, leave the past tribulations behind, and start a new. I didn’t know a thing about wood working, but it sounded like such a joyous dream, I wanted to learn. A nice weekend project for a father and son, perhaps.
I bought my first pair of steel-toed boots, work belt and rain gear.
While dad begun plotting the land and calculating materials, I attended a trade school. Ten hours a day we were hands on, rain or shine. Measure twice, cut once.
Every day I awoke at 6:00AM, shovelled coffee and cigarettes into my gullet, and took the bus into town. My back was aching after the first week, I didn’t think I could continue. I couldn’t do the math, and I felt visually retarded. Looking at a CAD document may as well have been sent to me from NASA’s aeronautics department. Frustrating, to say the least.
A cigarette breakfast was replaced with an ibuprofen cocktail, and I plowed forward.
By the time I graduated, I found no pleasure in the work. I would go so far as to say I hated myself, knowing the only thing I was qualified for was breaking my back. Dads dream remained his own, and I moved away to pursue other interests.
Sitting behind my desk at Cisco Systems on a cloudy Monday – the phone rang.
“It’s dad…” the voice said.
I felt like I had just left town yesterday, not several months ago. Why didn’t he say anything? How long had he known?
After putting on a strong face for the funeral, I went out to the cabin. The wood was weathered and warped. It had remain uncovered for months. The cancer spread like the framing of a house. Every time they tried to replace a piece of knotted wood, stronger pieces erected in other locations. It was so sudden, so abrupt. What could I do?
He picked the perfect spot. A soft bluff overlooking the ocean. I found the water-logged blueprints sitting in a feeble looking tool box. A large bay window was to be the center piece of the cabin. Fitting, for a man who hated television.
I looked around the site to see what was salvageable. The wood was gone, the nails were rusted, ductile piping was corroded; waste of money. A shed sat in the back of the property, perhaps for tools. Opening the door, laying perfectly still in the middle of the 4×4 cubicle – my work boots, work belt, and rain gear. In his heart he wanted us to build the cabin together, but I was too selfish to notice.
Grabbing the gear, I put it on, and went to work.
“I’ll finish it dad, you rest now.”
Featured image courtesy Jessica Melnik