Pop. Papa. Papa-San. Daddy. Dad.
I grew up believing that he could do everything. In 1976 he started construction on the house he and mom lived in for the rest of his life. He dug the basement, some of it by hand and he did all the framing, and the main plumbing and electrical himself, with professional help only with the parts that needed legal permits. He could fix engines. He knew all about the birds and animals and trees and plants on their land. He loved science and technology and he liked to invent gadgets and gizmos to make his work easier. He loved history and storytelling. He was a carpenter and for the last 15 years of his working life he did residential finishing, renovated kitchens and installed cabinets for a local manufacturer. He retired at 70 because he was finally ready to.
I was always allowed in the shop, was always allowed to use the hand tools. I hammered and sawed and tried to use the bit brace when I was little and the smell of sawdust will forever be the smell of home and of my dad. I don't know if he was proud or pleased when I took up carpentry in 1994 because dad was not a hugely demonstrative guy, but he must have been okay with it, because while I was an apprentice he taught me to do finishing and cabinets. We worked on hundreds of homes together. He taught me to be careful. If my corners were not perfect he made me take them apart and do them again. If things didn't line up, he made me take them apart and line them up right. He taught me how to use levers and cleats and clamps with cabinets that were too unwieldy for one person to install. He made it look easy. He taught me that mistakes were not tragedies unless you didn't learn anything from them.
He was unfailingly kind. He was unflinching about doing the right thing, and he alway just seemed to know the right thing. Family mattered.
There was no one in the world he loved more than my daughter. He read to her and walked in the bush with her and showed her birds and animals and taught her to drive the tractor. He had more wooden boxes in his shop than he needed because she liked to build boxes and he liked to do what she liked to do. When she was a teenager he took her to work with him and had her assemble and help him install cabinets. She is confident with tools today. When she was four he found my old toy sewing machine or he bought a new one and he showed her how to sew. He put her on his lap and he operated the foot pedal and helped her feed fabric through the needle. She is a professional seamstress today.
I believed that he could do everything. He believed that I could do anything.
I will miss him so much.