Every day I wash Dad’s wooden salad bowl and I remember him. Sometimes I have a little chat and tell him about the wonderful things that are happening and ache that he is not here to experience it: how proud he would be of his grandson, my joy of singing in the choir, our flourishing businesses and happy homes. When there is bad news, I quietly wash the wood, grateful that he is not here to experience the grief. For although Dad was all fun-loving and bluster on the outside, anyone close to him knew that he was all soft on the inside and would cry at the drop of a hat, a sing of a song, a mention of anything truly close to him. He felt everything deeply and was not necessarily good at expressing himself – unless of course it was through his creations.
From my earliest memory, Dad was always crafting, building, creating something. As a child I remember him spending countless hours in his basement workshop making remote-control model airplanes (that he would crash and then have to re-build). After that it was, among other things, backgammon boards using light and dark wood painstakingly cut and glued together to create pattern. The workshop was directly below the kitchen, and I remember Mom stomping three times to let him know when dinner was ready. He would holler back an “OK!” and would surface invariably covered in dust with a partly smoked cigarette dangling out of his mouth.
Once retired, Mom and Dad moved fulltime to King Edward Bay and his creative streak ramped up to prolific. He went back to art school and learned how to sculpt marble, he turned wooden bowls on his lathe, and dove passionately into metal works, casting and hammering everything from door handles, door knockers, to bells, bowls, jewellery, and beautiful copper kettles with ornate leaves and flowers applied like embroidery. He was un-stoppable. Soon after he reached out to Granville Island and quickly became a fixture at their craft market hawking his wares with his signature flourish, story and love of the dramatic that was as unique and show stopping as his wares.
Dad is gone but his creations continue to tell his story. Used every day, they are beautifully functional, wonderfully memorable, and perfect legacy to everything that dear “Pops” was to me. Of all his work, his wooden salad bowls remain as my soft spot. A quintessential conversation piece I continue to have with him long after he’s gone.