My Father's Saw
It was on the top shelf, hanging from a nail above my workbench—my father’s saw. I brought it home a decade ago, one of a few relics I found in his shed when my sister and I cleaned house shortly after his demise.
“My old bucksaw,” he used to say. “Best thing for sawing up slabs.”
I reached up, brought the old saw down and touched the thin serrated blade. Still sharp. Oh, how I still remember the sound of that back-and-forth movement. Fighting back the tears, I laid it down on the workbench and reflected on the memories hidden inside this simple tool of my father.
That saw was a special connection, a bond beyond words, between dad and me. It seemed that he would always find some answer in wood that otherwise might have eluded him. Thinking back over his past, that should not have surprised me. The forest was in his blood from the very moment he set foot in the woods as a lumberjack and a sawmill operator at the tender age of 22.
Many frosty evenings, as I held those slabs tightly against that old wood horse, I was given some nugget of truth as I watched the junks fall upon the frosty ground.
“Hard work will never hurt anyone,” he would often say as he loaded up my tired arms with kindling, tight to my neck.
Yes, he was the epitome of hard work. When it was all said and done, he measured success by the sweat of his brow, whether it was a box full of wood, a full barrel of water or food in the cupboards.
Rearing 10 children in an age when money was scarce and materials possessions few was not an easy task. Yet somehow my father saw to it that each of us was well cared for. Our welfare always seemed to be his number one concern.
I was convinced as a child that my dad was among one of Newfoundland/Labrador’s finest lumberjacks. One thing I know for sure, he spent practically his whole working life in front of a saw, as he pushed that old carriage to cut lumber to perfection. I can almost picture it, as if it was yesterday. I would be standing right beside him in that loud sawmill, watching in awe as he guided that push-bench until he was satisfied with the outcome. I thought he practically walked on water. That saw was a special connection between dad and me.
They say it takes awhile before one can understand the value of a father. When you are child, it seems you are too preoccupied with other things to appreciate a father’s advice or the little things that a dad does for you. The great writer Mark Twain once said, “When I became 30 years old, all of a sudden my father became very wise.” It does take awhile indeed sometimes before a father’s advice sinks in. I often wonder why, in childhood, we rush to grow up and then miss the value of a loving dad.
I used to wonder why my dad never had much time to sit and play with us. All I knew was when I needed something fixed, he found a way to get it done. I used to wonder too why season after season he never took time off. It never occurred to me until later in life that we were the reason.
I shall always remember his favourite saying: "never give up on a dream."
That was a most comforting thought that day as I held that dear piece of family history—my father’s saw—in my hands. For that, I am eternally grateful. I hope some day I will see him again. If I do, I will give him his saw back. I know he would like that.
My thoughts that day were interrupted by my wife’s call, “It’s supper time.”
I placed the old relic back in its rightful place above the bench and left the precious memories locked up in my father’s saw.
“Your eyes are red,” she said, as I took my first sip of tea.
“A little sawdust in my eyes,” I said.
Submitted by Anonymous
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