Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dad's Winter Projects

Each of the four seasons gave my father a new outlook. Nothing ever got boring because he always had a new project around the bend. I think he even began to look forward to the winter months most of all because he and a few key workers would get down to work on his what emerged into his latest business--what he referred to as "The Limo Business."

This has to be one of my all-time favorite photos of my father. It encompasses so many of the elements of life that he loved so much: comfortable work clothes, his land, the trees, an antique car, the dog, and wintertime.

When he went to the land, HIS land, he met with his workers or he simply puttered alone. He was in his element. His barn or garage, whichever you want to call it, had three or four stalls. Part of his garage looked like a professional service station. he had a contraption to lift vehicles so that he could work underneath them.

His land served as so much more than a piece of land for his operation. It was a meeting point for the guys throughout the year. He bought fresh doughnuts and provided a pot of coffee every morning. It was truly a small town business, but built on old-fashioned values. Dad forged both friendship and trust with his workers. I always felt there was a special bond that existed with them that even the new guys picked up on straight away. Dad loved to be busy. He loved his work. And he loved cars. He shared his vision with the workers and they believed in it as much as he did. Not only did it provide work in the off-season, but it made them feel an important part of something unique.

Dad was always scouting around for the right vehicle to transform. Men around town would give him tips where he could the right parts. Everyone shared in his vision, actually, not just his workers. Once he solidified his ideas, and it grew cold, Dad would brief his men on what he wanted and they'd get right to work.

His longtime tree workers would become automotive technicians. They worked together to restore old vehicles to give them new glory. What one didn't know, the other supplied in experience. Frankly, my father knew a heck of a lot about cars. He had worked around them all his life. Dad had a natural curiosity for tinkering, and he had a no-nonsense approach to getting things done. If he could imagine it, he'd do it. Charley, Kirk, Donnie, Shawn, Rusty and a few others over the years tinkered all winter long. They cut through steel plates, soldered parts together, jacked up the vehicles, spray painted, oiled, greased, rebuilt engines and whatever necessary to get an antique fitted out with a modern engine but authentic antique parts. When that was all done, they'd set to work again, and s-t-r-e-t-c-h the vehicle. My dad could keep everyone dreaming about the finished work. He held them all together. When dad drove the finished vehicle off the property and onto the road, they all celebrated.

I don't know how to express the bonding that went during the winter months but I know that God brought it all together and made it possible to bring Dad's visions to fruition.
God just knows each of us so well that he brought the right combination of skills and personalities to work together in Dad's garage to restore these vehicles. Nothing is by chance. These men were hand-picked to be in my dad's life by our Heavenly Father. I thank Him.

God, thank you for bringing so many blessings into my family's life: the land that meant so much to my dad, two very special four-legged companions, the vehicles, his talents and skills, his optimism, the workers that he spent so much time with, a loving wife and children.
Thank you for creating him with a big heart for my town and for laughter and optimism and warmth. You loved my father so much that You provided all this for him and in him even when He didn't know or seek You out. How thrilling it must have been when dad realized how much You loved him - that You gave him the desires of his heart. Thank you God for my father and for loving him as you did. Thank you God for answering our prayer and opening his eyes to You.

We will all be in our elements in that piece of land one day and my family will be complete again.

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