The end of an era

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Blog entry by Wayne posted 04-22-2012 05:44 AM 2020 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am writing today about a stage in my life, no new project, no new tools, very little to do with woodworking at all honestly. To my friends, Im giving you an honest glimpse into my sheltered southern childhood, please bring your big boy panties and dont get offended. If you care to….humor me.

When I was an infant, my grandmother married her 2nd husband, Ken. She had been divorced for a few years, went on a trip to california, and came back with a husband. The family was shocked to say the least. To think she would remarry … after only knowing this guy for less than a month!?

Ohh man.. this guy….a vietnam vet. with the mouth you would expect. He was loud, he had an answer to everything, and he was a yank to boot…great job granny.

Growing up in Alabama you can imagine the mumblings following this man around. Listening to my family, I had little to no respect for the man. There is a saying ” the yankees left, its the damn yankees that stayed “(in the south)

He dabled in just about everything, never having a steady job for long. He lived on his army retirment, and spent most of that on new toys/tools. What woodwork he did was never refined. It was often out of square with plenty of sawdust in the finish. One summer he even burned down the family barn while burnning some leaves. He said things about my grandmother, I could have went my life without thinking about. He could make a sailor blush and a nun cuss.

When I was about 12 he helped me and my brother make a birdhouse. I would be lying if I said It sparked an interest in me. I enjoyed using the tools, but spending the time with this man was not high on my list of things to do. As I got older he would pop in to offer some unrequested “help”. As a teen he built me a ramp for my skateboard that was barely wider than the skateboard itself. I pretended to be greatfull, and then me and my friends mocked him when he left. I rented a mobile home from he and my grandmother when I first left “home”. It was right next door to his shop. I could’nt even check the mail without having a 2 hour conversation!

Then came a time when I moved away from the 15 acre plot we shared with my grandmother. I now had my own family and my own opinions. The few times a year i had to put up with him became more bearable although he still got under my skin. He would offer me advise on my business, as he once was a owner/opereator truck driver.He opened up to me a little from time to time, telling me about his times in panama and vietnam. He even told me once that we were the only family he had known. I began to realize how all those things I had grown up hearing and thinking, where misguided. He was making an effort to be involved in my life, more so than the other men in my family.

Last summer he invited me out to see his new grizzly lathe. We chatted for a bit about woodworking, as my interest was turning to an addiction. I explained my love for handtools , he laughed it off, explaining a table saws capabilities to me as if it were foreign. He then asked me if I would like to have his shop when he passed. Guilt hit me like a blow to the stomach, I could feel the blood rushing from my face. I wanted to say no, I felt undeserving. I squeked out a “sure” and really dont remember much else from the rest of the conversation.

Im sure you can guess why I say it is an end of an era by now. This Wednesday will be a first for me. It will be my time first serving as a paul bearer. After a short battle with cancer, Ken gave up the ghost yesterday.

When someone close to us dies, we have a seemingly sudden realization of our own mortallity. We are so distracted in todays society that we often forget this world is temporary. I would like to offer you with this story, that opportunity to look around at your circle and realize what you have at this moment. Look at what is neglected. And look at what misguided judgments you may be making.

17 comments so far

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 4179 days

#1 posted 04-22-2012 07:07 AM

That was a nice story, I am sorry for your loss. I bet he knew you’re the right person to leave his tools.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View Brit's profile


8303 posts in 3854 days

#2 posted 04-22-2012 11:24 AM

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Wayne. It is certainly something to think about.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3848 days

#3 posted 04-22-2012 11:25 AM

Thanks for sharing man.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View Don W's profile

Don W

19893 posts in 3579 days

#4 posted 04-22-2012 11:40 AM

Some times its just about the journey. Sorry for your loss.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3304 days

#5 posted 04-22-2012 12:27 PM

Nicely written. Ken would appreciate your tribute and the new home for the tools he collected during his life. Sorry for your loss and your grandmother’s loss.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View clieb91's profile


4211 posts in 4946 days

#6 posted 04-22-2012 01:20 PM

Wayne, Sorry for your loss. This writing is a nice tribute to the man.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3317 days

#7 posted 04-22-2012 01:37 PM

Nice story and we’ll written. I am sorry for your loss, for me it’s always about the journey and almost never about the destination.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 3614 days

#8 posted 04-22-2012 02:51 PM

Well written, and I am also sorry for the loss. You pay a great tribute to him with this written piece and the future things you do with his tools and shop.

Be well and enjoy every moment.


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 3477 days

#9 posted 04-22-2012 03:24 PM

I can relate to the feeling of mortality when you loose someone close. I lost my mom last September and it really hit me that one day too I will be gone. Now that I have a son, this is something I do a lot more thinking about. It will be bitter sweet when the time comes to ‘inherit’ his tools, and they will have a very special meaning to you as you look at them and most of all use them.

Take your time to heal, no one should rush through an experience like that.

God bless and thanks for sharing your story.

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View jeepturner's profile


946 posts in 3804 days

#10 posted 04-22-2012 03:44 PM

Sorry for your loss Wayne.
Your story is touching, and the I understand how you feel. I have been a pallbearer more times now than I would want to account.
How many times has life has life tried to teach that one lesson to me, I can’t even try to count. The lesson is “thou shalt not judge”. I am hoping that I have learned it although I doubt that I have. Stories like yours gives all of us another opportunity to live better lives.
Thanks for the post.

-- Mel,

View rodman40's profile


166 posts in 3339 days

#11 posted 04-22-2012 05:39 PM

Thanks for the reminder Wayne , sorry for your loss, at least he had two people in that family who cared for him, you and your Grandma.

-- Rodman

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3847 days

#12 posted 04-22-2012 06:50 PM

Sometimes it can be hard for some people to express themselves especially when there may be family feelings in there. Glad to see you realized that he was trying to reach out to you before the end, it’s a well written eulogy and does his memory proud.

-- A posse ad esse

View dpow's profile


504 posts in 3856 days

#13 posted 04-22-2012 07:40 PM

Well, Wayne, your last sentence about misguided judgements, pretty much sumed it up for me. Many of us have or have had someone like Ken in our lives. That person who maybe annoyed us, irritated us, someone we thought was less than we were, or someone we just plain couldn’t stand because they weren’t like us. Sometimes after those people are gone do we realize who they really were. Often times we don’t get to know the real person because we are listening too much to what others say about them. Your story was one many of us have wrote in our heads. Maybe your story of Ken could be shared with others at his funeral. After all I’ve said, sorry for your loss.

-- Doug

View PurpLev's profile


8648 posts in 4660 days

#14 posted 04-22-2012 08:09 PM

Amen to that, went through something similar not too long ago and it hit me – life is just too short, and you should make the best of it while you still can.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Johnnyblot's profile


319 posts in 3288 days

#15 posted 04-22-2012 08:27 PM

I could not agree more with what Doug above has said! My sentiments exactly. Thankfully we have these characters in our lives. Bless him.


-- Gossamer shavings just floating around the back yard….-Bandit

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