I pick up his hammer, I feel the wooden handle, its metal face is heavy, suitable for mechanic work. It hangs on my tool wall, along with my dad’s screw drivers and my father-in-law’s saw. They are all gone now, my son, dad and father-in-law, but when I hold their tools, they draw close at hand. Sometimes tears well up in my eyes, sometimes I curse out of desperation, always they are there, at their work and at their best. It’s a sad but warm feeling, it fills my core, and brings continuity to the repetition and meaning to the cycle of work.
I see her working with her flowers every day. Her children require constant attention. The colorful pedals and healthy stems are her children now. They speak to her, their buds tell her they are growing, their blooms thank her for the food and water. And she is saddened and angry when deer jump the fence, trample her stems, and eat her colorful pedals. We build a higher fence, she plants more seeds, but we know summer is coming with its scorching sun, followed by fall with its threatening hurricanes, and winter with its frost. It doesn’t stop her from sharing a splash of color in the front of the church, in a friend’s vase, or in the hope of a full garden of colorful children, happy to be in a gentle sun and matching breeze.
After Benny died, John told me he went every week to the animal auction and just sat there alone. He never bought, he never bid, he sat. Then at the end of the night he picked himself up and took himself home, alone in his depression.
“How did you get out of that rut,” I asked.
“I worked,” he told me. That’s how he dealt with his loss, with the hole in in soul where a best friend once lived. He told funny Benny stories to others but he told me how he’d go down to his barber shop for a weekly cut he really didn’t need and a friend that he didn’t know how to live without.
In this time of self-seclusion, I noticed we replace work with work. I always found it interesting that no matter where we live, whether it’s Chris Farley’s van down by the river or Pippy’s Villa Villekulla, we do something curious to make it a home. We work. We scrub the floors, we plant a garden, build a deck, hang a picture. We work to make it safe, we work to bring solace to our world, knowing winter is still coming.
There’s that word again—solace, to bring comfort. It reminds me of the word solstice which literally translated means the sun stands still, as in the longest day. At its root is sun. I wonder if there is a connection? It makes sense to me that the root of solace would also be the sun, the source of warmth, security and growth; the giver to gardens and grief.
The sun’s rays are healing, the outdoors is rejuvenating. I toil over this keyboard; my lumbar discs scream for a stretch and my brain begs for a break. I go outside, work on a carburetor, climb across the saddle on top of the bike I built and I go.
The wind in my face, the sun in my eyes, the smell of spring, the colors of children line the road. I go.
And I go home. Knowing today I did something—I worked. I picked up my son’s hammer, I searched the sun. I felt God’s love. I can sleep tonight.
Hey, Lori and I have been married 40 years today! Join me on Facebook Live 9am and 9pm weekdays to hear my miraculous account on the Appalachian Trail, When Sunday Smiled. It now has its own inspirational song and is up for Best Christian Memoir. Also, look for my next book coming out later this year. Check out both on my website, Andymdavidson