I gained a lot of wisdom from my dad when we fished together, tossed a baseball back and forth, worked under the hood of a car, and in my early adult years, as we simply conversed. All my sons are older now than I was when I lost dad, and we’re scores of miles apart. Wisdom is still shared when we get together, but it sometimes happens in text messages, too.
My sons and I have a group text thread that captures collective exchanges. I suppose that I have a few years’ worth in my phone’s data files. My oldest son has undertaken crafting a wood shop in a shed in his backyard. He loves woodworking of many types and is creating a place to maximize his interests and talents in a space that is efficient and effective. His tone is rightfully proud and excited as he shares with his brothers and me in the group texts.
After a recent update from him, I replied, “Places of craftsmanship are havens. Ah, I miss my darkroom.”
He replied, “I’d go crazy without them” to which I said, “I understand. It is good that you did not give up on them. They will never give up on you. A little wisdom from an old man.”
I smiled out of love and nostalgia: love for my sons, of my dad, of the memories and of our relationship.
I recall when my dad had a neighbor build a shed in our backyard so he would have a place to store yard equipment and, more importantly, so he would have a place to convert old metal files and other pieces of steel into knives ranging from tiny to machete. He had surrendered his previous workspace in the garage years before so his son – me – would have a place for a pool table and fun. He was not nearly the craftsman that two of my sons are in workshops, but he loved the haven for the respite that it provided. As an accountant, a cruncher of numbers and a knight for people against the IRS dragon, he used the grinding away of steel into form and edge as a way to grind away the stressors of the work. He was also able to create something tangible.
Long after I am gone, my sons will be in their places of craftsmanship (of various types), and hopefully they will remember the wisdom from their old man who remembered it from watching his old man. “Places of craftsmanship are havens… It is good that you did not give up on them. They will never give up on you.”
Wisdom does not just flow from older to younger. Not by a long shot. My sons’ wisdom has come to me in expressions that constituted “out of the mouths of babes,” as well as in poems, conversations, reflections and musings shared in all manner of times and activities throughout their lives. Much of what we shared weaves between the many stories in my book, Daddin’: The Verb of Being a Dad.
As the book states, it is the moments that matter. In moments, wisdom can be shared. It grows with each passing on to another, and between generations makes it even more important.