My father was a carpenter and cabinet maker. Among other things. He started life on a farm and never really got over wanting to be a farmer, but his life didn’t go that way.
When I was a kid he started his own business, doing custom finish trim and cabinetry in nice homes. It was (saw)dusty work, often in sweltering weather, Daddy and his small crew. He’d come home from work, step into the utility room from the garage, and change from his dirty overalls into a t-shirt and cotton trousers, then head straight through the house to take a shower. He was fastidious, my dad.
He died suddenly, too young, of a heart attack, when I was just out of college. Many years later, after my stepmother died, I came into possession of his wallet.
Today I went out on a photo meetup shoot. The rules were to bring an object and take a picture of it, then post it without any caption or comment so that the photo would tell the story.
I decided to take along my first camera. When I reached in my memory box for the camera, my hand touched the wallet. I was a little late to the meetup because I stood there going through the cards, slips of paper, and photos he carried. In the wallet that he pulled out of his pocket on that long ago Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, not knowing he would never touch it again.
My dad’s wallet smells a bit of sawdust. The photo insert sleeves are scratched and rubbed. He probably carried the wallet for years. The leather is smooth, with the feel that new leather can’t match.
As we walked around old downtown Littleton this morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d pull out the wallet for a photo. I’d brought other things along to shoot. Coming out of an alley, I turned a corner and my eye was caught by the turquoise garage door and trim of a small building on a side street. Then I saw the sign on the glass door: Custom Woodworking and Cabinetry.
I propped the wallet on the door of the woodworking shop and snapped a few photos. It felt peaceful and exactly right.