Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet sawdust and Concrete memories......

We are renovating to serve you better".  This is the sign that I pass as I enter the store and begin my shift each day.  Superstore is getting a major overhaul and every morning as I walk through the sliding doors I discover the new changes completed during the night.  We have a crew of contractors that begin at 10pm after the store closes for the day. They are like Santa's Elves working "under cover" during the night to get the job done. They were hired to paint, drywall, plaster and renovate. Pallets of supplies, twisted metal, copper piping, ladders and tools can be found neatly stacked in various places through out the store. Its like walking through an industrial maze as I navigate around the piles towards my own workstation. Each day the store is filled with sights and scents of  a busy construction site.  The air is permeated with the smell of newly painted walls, freshly poured concrete, and drying plaster. There are also a few workers that continue the tasks during the day.   
As I walk through the store towards the back, I hear a grinder whirr as the contractors use it to smooth out the edge on a piece of freshly cut metal.  In the distant is the sound of a drill boring a new hole in the wall, and a hammer that has found its target nail head.  Behind a tarp I can hear the crackle of a welding machine as the metal arcs and makes contact with the welding rod. It is acrid and sooty smelling.  Most people would find these sights, smells and sounds irritating yet, I do not.  To me these are gentle reminders of my father whom I love deeply.   
When I was a younger I remember countless days where Dad could be found working in the garage at home.  There was always something under construction, something to fix, change, repair or build.  Dad loved finding, and often "creating" another project to keep himself  busy with work.  I grew up to the sound and scents of the garage.  To me it was a completely normal part of my childhood. It was constant and comforting. My father also held a full time job outside of the home but when I heard these sounds I knew my dad was home.     
Born in Moncton, New Brunswick, much of my dads early life was spent working on the family dairy farm.  According to my dad, life on the farm was filled with labour intensive work, many late nights and often, very early mornings.  There was constantly something that needed to be done, and little time to be idle.  Fences needed repairing, the cows had to be milked once in the morning and again at night, and as one chore was completed, another was added to the list.  Not only did my Dad work on the farm, but the family also added a weekly garbage collection for the community.  My grandfather seemed to find just one more project to add to keep the family working together. They were always busy, yet my grandparents always observed Sundays to attend church and rest.  The stories my father shared through the years lead me to believe although life was difficult on the farm, it was a life that he cherished. In only nineteen short years, this life on the farm helped to shape him into the man he is today.  
Over the years his hands have cracked and dried rough like sandpaper. They are scratchy when I hold them, yet always comforting.  His face and neck are weathered like etched plaster baked by the unrelenting sun but he still looks gentle and kind. His shoulders remind me of strong beams and his back like a sturdy oak column. His legs are like great footings standing tall and supportive.  He has values that have remained strong over time. Unbending, unwavering, unchanged, like the highest quality Rebar placed perfectly, tied and secured before the final layer of cement is poured.  Strong, permanent, stable, enduring...........He is like a great foundation built to stand the test of time..........Concrete.

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