Sunday, June 17, 2012

Balsa Wood Memories and Father's Day

Father's Day is always a tough time for me.

My Dad died in 1996. I was a sophomore in College. 16 years ago. That is almost half of my life he has been gone. Some will say that holding memories close and thinking about the good things can ease the pain or make missing someone abate to some degree. That's just a lot of crap. Deciding to withdraw life support after a massive heart attack and over a month in a vegetative state sits heavy and dark like some kind of rain cloud that just won't pour or move on.

But maybe this year is a little different.

My Father was a railroad man (you can read some stories here). He was about 5 '9 and weighed about 220 pounds and all of it was this rock-like muscle. His strength and size made his chosen passion for a hobby that much more bizarre; building detailed and fragile model airplanes. It would take anywhere from 6 months to over a year for my Dad to build a complete plane from scratch. And I mean from scratch, no kits. He custom built every part and even designed a type of wing that people would write to him about to try and get him to make a set for their planes.

They looked a bit like these, sorry I do not have pictures, I would have to ask my Mom to dig some up:

I would always go into the basement workshop and try to help out. Of course my Dad started me off slow with small balsa wood models to learn both about the process of assembly and how patient one has to be when dealing with something as fine as balsa wood. You cannot rush this stuff.

I hate to admit, but over time I had forgotten about those things. It just slowly faded out, like writing on a beach when the tide comes up. Maybe I never would have thought about it again, if not for a trip to Rockport, Massachusetts last weekend.

The wife and I were checking out the shops in the downtown area. Inside a "Country Store" there were all kinds of old candy I had not seen in a while (mallow cups!) and assorted New England things. At a back wall I was hit full on over the head with old time memories when I saw these balsa wood planes:

Made by Guillow, it was small balsa planes like this I used to assemble while working with my Dad! I can't lie, I was almost floored when I saw them. Such a simple thing really, but everything just poured in right then. I may have bought quite a few on the spot.

The plane in pieces, then assembled:

Just holding this plane I can feel the quartz space heater my Father had in the basement for the workshop. The smell of balsa wood, epoxy, styrofoam being burned by wires (filled the wings), and spray paint. How many hours did I spend down there? Not enough I should think.

So this year Father's Day is a bit better over here. Something so small and simple brought back so much to me. Nice when that happens.

My favorite picture of my Dad, sorry for the glare but this is a picture of an old picture I have saved. That is me and my Dad fishing (can't remember where it was!):

Happy Father's day.


Anonymous said...

I love everything about this post except that your dad has passed... it is obvious that he and your mom each shared with you hearts as big as the sky. Hugs to you, my dear friend. Sarie

The Sovereign Bohemian said...

Awesome post GYSC and a great picture, too. Those old pictures have what The Antiques Roadshow call patina...well I doubt they ever said that about snapshots.

I am going to call my brother to check out your post. I know he would love what you have to say about your dad.

Peace, brother. Have a great day!

EconomicDisconnect said...

Thanks Sarie!

Hey Sov, thanks for the read.

Watchtower said...

GYSC, your Dad would have been proud of you and what you have accomplished since his passing.

This is one of my favorite post of yours.

Take care!

EconomicDisconnect said...

Watchtower, that means a lot to me. Thank you sir.

Julian said...

Such a great post, thanks for sharing.

Robert Sinn said...

Great Post with some excellent pics J!, Cheers!


GawainsGhost said...

I feel your loss, GYC. My father passed away 11 years ago.

Lung cancer. Actually, it was cancer in the muscle around the lung, as if that makes a difference. Those were two hard years.

I went over to visit one day, and he had just come home from the store. He was panting, his eyes were bulging and his face was red. I asked him, Dad, are you okay? I took him to the hospital.

They pumped a liter of gunk out of his lungs. He was in and out of intensive care, on and off a respirator for months. I watched him literally shrink. He lost 150 lbs in six weeks. His hair turned white and his teeth fell out.

It was real hard on my mother. Real hard. They had been married for 45 years. I had to resign my teaching positions and move back home to help her take care of him and run the family business.

He died in a hospital bed surrounded by his family. But I don't think he even knew it. He was unconscious and on a respirator. When the heart monitor went flat, I knew it was over.

My father never really played much with me when I was a kid. We never went fishing or hunting. We never played sports together. It wasn't like he was ignoring me, but more that he was on-call 24/7/365. He worked constantly, every day.

I promised him that I would look after my mother, because he really did love her. But after he was gone, she went nuts. She had lost her anchor.

Now all she does is work. I'm talking like 4:00 AM to 8:00 PM. She won't stop. She says she has more energy today than when she was 20.

Every day it's we have another assingment. Look up this property, find this house, pick up this sign, put up this sign. I am a total slave. But responsibilities of the first-born son and all that.

They say a boy does not become a man until his father dies. Yeah, well, I didn't figure it would be anything like this.

@swooon said...

Dude this is unbelievably beautiful. I typically ( it's rather unfortunate, actually) cannot read a blog post that isn't market related without dozing off but this was something special my man. Amazing job

David Batista said...

Love the picture. This was a beautiful story of you and your dad, and I'm sure you're doing him proud being the man you are today because of him. Thanks for sharing!

EconomicDisconnect said...

Thanks for reading and stopping by all, means a lot.

Kid Dynamite said...

poignant post, dude.

classic 1984 picture at the bottom!

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Smylee Smith said...

absolutely love this.. Im very sorry you didnt get to grow old with your dad, but Im very glad you have fond memories with him... He absolutely raised an awesome son.. Im proud of you friend.. Thank you for making me appreciate that I still have my daddy and sometimes I forget to call him and say I love him.. OH and what is that comment right up there from anonymous? hahaha has nothing to do with your story... Hugs bugs... Nighty night gowns.. ;)