"He's in the shed."
The shed. It was many different places, at various locations throughout the years, but there was always "the shed" or "the garage" or "the shop" or "the barn." These were places where all your tools and hardware lived; it was your special place. You could go there and think things through like how to fix a faucet or how to support a broken heart. In many ways it was also your sanctuary. It was a respite from the craziness of living with half a dozen teenagers and a place to have some peace and quiet to contemplate life. I think it was what they would call now days your "man cave. "
The shed had its own unique smell of oil and grease and dirt from the countryside; of tools well used, well loved, well cleaned and well stored. While growing up I often believed that you had every tool imaginable in the shed which could build or fix anything. I always enjoyed watching you build and fix things. I was fascinated by what tools could do in your hands. Sometimes I was even lucky enough to be there to hand you the right tool or learn about what you were doing. This was where we could talk. It might start with what you were working on, but then it would move on to what was going on with me, our plans about the future, or things happening on the farm or with the family.
Finally, there was the last shed that you left behind, here on the farm. It is a small cedar garden shed that you built from a kit when you and Mom moved here to live with us in your retirement. I remember how happy you seemed working on that shed every day until you got it just right, then putting all of your tools lovingly into their new place -- their final place. This was your own project; the making of your own space once again. While we worked together -- you and me and my husband -- putting up new fences, rebuilding the old barn, and getting the landscape ready for your new house, you still had your special shed project going. "Work well with the team," your actions said, "but always keep moving on your personal goals, too."
You are gone now. Our time together at the farm is over and you have moved to a quiet seaside home. The shed was left behind with many of the tools and hardware that you would no longer need in the next phase of your life. I remember on the last day you took a final look around inside the shed with me and said that you hoped we would find some things in it useful on the farm someday. With that you gave "the shed" and all its contents to my husband and me. I sensed this was an emotional time for you as I heard the catch in your usually calm voice. There was a very big part of you that you were leaving behind and entrusting to us. I did not know at the time what it was, nor its value.
While I continue to work on the farm with our horses and to help my husband with various projects as best I can, I have not been in the shed since that last day with you, until a couple weeks ago. I had some garden things that needed moving out of the garage. My husband suggested that I put them in "the garden shed" as he now calls it. Funny how just the change in name could change my perspective. I thought nothing of walking right into the place I could not enter for over two years.
The first thing I noticed as I opened the door and stepped inside was the smell; so old and so familiar. It took me right back to every shed, every shop, and every barn that we ever shared. Oil, grease, dirt and hay. More earthly and manly than any cologne. That was the smell of work done well, of days spent at the farm in your company.
A flood of memories came to me as I looked upon the tool chests with their contents clean and neatly stored. How many times I had seen these very things in your hands as you worked along on one thing or another. Suddenly you were there with me in this museum of our past. I felt your calm caring ways as you helped me learn to fix things more human than mechanical. Oh, how I suddenly missed those times!
~ Joanna Pintello DeRungs
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved.