My blog has been full of reminiscence about my grandfather since shortly before his death. I have mused about his contributions to my life, his wisdom, his love and saying good bye to a man who meant so much to me. Saturday, while doing some work at the house I was in the workshop where, for fifty years, he made shutters, doors, desks and more out of wood in a way that made carpentry seem as simple as breathing. In the basement of his shop, looking for a work lamp, I came across a familiar green shovel rusting in the corner. It was an entrenchment tool, a remnant of his brief career in the Army Air Force during World War II. As a child I had marveled over its design and versatility, had used it for digging ditches and trenches in the field where I searched for buried Confederate gold and arrow heads from a time of antiquity. He took pride in his tools and to see any of them, especially one I had known so intimately growing up, left to rot in shadow was unbearable. I loaded it into my truck, brought it home and went to work. I cleaned the blade, oiled the hinges and repainted it to its original OD green. And why, you may ask, did I do this?
Truth is, I have no idea.
It’s a shovel. Forged from steel in a foundry in 1945 and issued to him as a part of his gear, it was one of many shovels and other lawn tools in that basement. But it was one that had fascinated me in my childhood and was a part of the legacy of the man I loved and respected, revered as a leader of a family and as a loving grandfather and teacher. Grief is a funny thing and, tonight, looking at this 70 year old piece of wood and metal that means nothing to anyone other than me, I feel as if, in some way, by restoring this tool and adding it to my tool box I have done honor to his memory and put a smile on his face… wherever he may have gone.