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Sawdust flies fresh off a metallic shrieking table saw. The scent of it almost sweet and smoky as it cascades down, mounding up on the shop floor like discolored snow drifts. I watch, silenced by the saw, as my dad works in his red, two-story wood shop out back.
My father wasn’t a carpenter by trade. He was one of habit.
Air traffic controllers are consistently ranked as having one of the most stressful jobs. My dad spent most of his adult life as an air traffic controller at Fort Rucker, Ala., the largest U.S. Army aviation base in the country. I went to sleep most nights with the sounds of propeller blades chopping through the night sky. Blackhawks, Chinooks and Apaches rumbled like thunder above, poltergeists sent from vanquished tribes all the choppers were named after.
After having to make sense of aircraft turned into green blips blinking on radar monitors all day and night – each one a potential life-threatening incident – my dad decompressed with carpentry. He cut out the stress of the day by carving shapes and patterns into wood.
With woodworking, he controlled every pass of every plank over the saw blade. He shaped and built all types of things, but especially clocks.
At one point every room in our house had several wooden clocks adorning the walls. There were clocks shaped like old Western towns, clocks with cuckoos on top, clocks with chimes below, clocks in every form or fashion you could imagine.
It’s amazing how often I’m late for things after growing up in a household where I was constantly reminded about time.
But my dad was building more than clocks and birdhouses; he was building a family. He was shaping me and my sister into adults through his dedication to work and by providing for his family.
The older I get, the more I understand and appreciate all my dad has done for me – what all good fathers do for their children, and the sacrifices they make.
It’s no coincidence that Jesus was a carpenter. All fathers are carpenters. Children are made into men and women by their example, by what they build and make out of this life. Without the direction of a good father, who knows what kind of shape we’ll end up in?
Every time I smell the scent of sawdust I still think about my dad in the wood shop out back, and what I intend to make out the rest of my life – the life he’s helped me craft.
Brandon Evans is a Messenger reporter.