Sunday, January 3, 2016

Poppa's Saw

January 3, 2016

My maternal grandfather was quite a man. He stood over six feet three at a time when the average man's height was about five foot ten. He ran away from home and an abusive step mother when he was sixteen and joined the Navy. His language could be coarse, but he was a wonderful grandfather to my brother, my sister, and myself. Not so much to my cousins. When my mother's sister married my Uncle Ray who was a Roman Catholic, my grandfather disowned her, never so much as speaking to her again. The story has it that when he was a little boy, someone did the family dirt, leaving them quite destitute. This somebody happened to be Catholic, which was all he needed to harbor a grudge that hurt his own flesh and blood who never did anything to deserve such treatment.

But to us, he was a wonderful grandfather. He was a milkman by trade, delivering bottles to houses all across the city until his heart attack forced an early retirement. Not one to let ill health stop him, he bought some land from his sister, tore down the barn that was on it, and built himself a house. From rough framing to building his own cabinets, he had his hands on every piece of wood, every nail, every window, door, and shingle on that house. To do this, he had to have tools, so he bought a table saw, band saw, drill press, planer, and shaper. I still have the Pinewood Derby car we made using those tools when I was a boy. Better yet, I have the memories of using them with his help. When Poppa Henthorn died in 1963, my dad inherited his shop. Somewhere along the line, dad decided to sell the shaper and planer, but kept the others.

Somehow, I inherited the table saw, band saw, and drill press when dad decided he couldn't use them anymore. These are not the cheap stuff that clutters the market these days. They are cast iron and steel, with not a single piece of plastic to be found. I've used them for years, finally giving the band saw and drill press to my son Matt to use in his knife-making business. I kept the table saw, for which he had no use, and which still was functional for various projects I've tackled. Unfortunately, the last time I fired it up, it screamed in protest. A bearing in either the motor or the blade pulley has apparently decided it's time to call it quits.

Linda remedied the situation by buying me a new table saw for Christmas, but I still hated to get rid of this old friend with all the memories it held, even though there's no logical reason to keep it. Enter my friend Eric, one of the handiest men I've ever met. He and his wife Tracy were over for dinner today, and I happened to tell him of Linda's gift, and of the old saw. "Can I see it?" he asked.

"Sure," I said, as we headed to the garage. Eric looked it over and asked, "How much do you want for it?" I told him he would be doing me a favor to take it off my hands. I didn't want to scrap it, and had pretty much decided to give it away in hopes someone could use it. Eric will have it up and running in no time, and I know my grandfather's saw is in good hands. It's a small thing really, but it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to give it to someone I know who will care for it even better than I would. That saw is probably sixty years old, and will soon be running strong.

It really is a parable of God's work in us. When we were ready to go on the scrapheap of life, all broken down and used up, God saw the possibilities in us, and said, "I can fix this and make you just like new." Instead of cast off, we are chosen, redeemed, and given new life and purpose. Thank you, Eric, for doing this with my grandfather's saw. Thank you, Lord, for doing this with me.

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