|Three small bears made by my father. Clothes knitted by my sister and I.|
Now 80 years old, my father is retired, after working for decades as a machinist. As a young man, he worked as a carpenter for several years after leaving school at 15. Always interested in photography, he now indulges in it as a hobby. He's always enjoyed working with his hands, and he's made wooden gates and fences for our backyard. When I was in art school, he even critiqued my stretcher-bar making skills! (Not quite perfect he said -- the wood pieces weren't quite flush with each other. I thought they were passable and looked okay.) I often felt that if he had been born in another place and time, he may have pursued something artistic. But those opportunities were not available to him when he was growing up.
What most people don't know about my father are the other things he made -- for my sister and I. The three bears in the photo above were all made by him when I was about 7 years old. Years before when I was about 4, I had a plush frog that I absolutely loved. Unfortunately, I loved it a little too much and before long, it was dirty and the stuffing started to come out of it. Eventually, my mother found it disgusting and threw it away without my knowledge. I was heartbroken, and for years afterwards whenever I was mad at her, I would bring up the frog incident. Well ... my father is a softie, especially when it comes to his daughters. He decided to cheer me up by making me a bear to replace the memory of my lost frog. The first bear he made is on the very left of the photo above. I can still remember that day, and how he drew out the silhouette of the bear on the pink scrap fabric, and sewed it all by hand. He sewed on buttons for eyes and stuffed it with cotton balls! Ever the perfectionist, he wasn't satisfied with his first attempt, and made another (the center bear with black bow tie). At this point, my older sister became a little jealous and wondered why they were all being made for me, so he made another bear for her (not pictured). The final bear is the lavender one on the right. The garments were all knitted by my sister and I. I think the blue one was the one I knitted.
Years later, when I was an adult, he made some rings out of scrap metal he found at work. He took some stainless steel, drilled a hole in the middle and filed it down into a heart shape (second photo below). My mother, sister, and I each received one. I keep mine safely in my jewelry box.
|Heart-shaped stainless steel ring made by dad.|
When I look at the bears and my ring, I'm reminded of why I have chosen my career path. The joy of creating something with your own hands that didn't exist before is magical. I have my father to thank for planting that seed in my head.