LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

John is a good old boy, and when he is clicking on all cylinders, he can do amazing things with wood. He’s a finish carpenter and has been in the house all week. Well, actually, only since Wednesday, but it feels like all week.

Bob wired this whole house, both the old part and the new, all by himself. Seeing him yesterday, memories washed over me like waves of spilled milk. The weeks he spent wiring the new part two years ago was when his boy was sick, his star athlete son about to go to college when the brain seizures began. Buck and I lived in the old part of the house while all the new building was going on, and it just wasn’t possible not to hear Bob exhorting, pleading, shouting at the doctors, nurse practitioners, insurance people, or speaking softly to one of his sisters or his mom about his son. We paced the floor with him and shut down the project when he needed to go up to Birmingham, where the whole family ate Thanksgiving dinner with the boy in a conference room at the hospital.

We had our own tragedy during that time, one I still can’t write about, and I guess that’s why, as soon as the house was 98% complete, we moved in, sent everyone home and locked the gate.

It’s a measure of healing perhaps, or strength, or determination — something — that John and Bob are back this week to cut in the door (where an outside window used to be) to connect the old dining room to the new kitchen, to replace the old exterior entrance door with an interior full glass door, and to finish putting stained wood trim around the dining room windows.

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I thought yesterday we were so exhausted by this process because we’re just not accustomed to having people in the house all day, making noise with hammers, saws and drills, and having to talk with them, too, especially Buck, giving instruction and guidance.

That’s part of it, sure. But it’s the memories that hit you like a ton of bricks. It’s the memories.

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