Monday, June 12, 2006

The Carpenter

I didn’t always get along with my brother Chris.

Not to say there weren’t plenty of good times – has to be with a guy that one shared a room with. And there sure were a lot of memories created (remind me to tell you the one about the game of Tarzan on the bunk beds, and the broken light cord).

But in general, Chris and I were never close.

Two years in age and a whole world separated us. I was the bookworm and scholar, while Chris grew up in an era when dyslexia was diagnosed as “stupid.” He loved working with his hands, while I spent my time living out stories in my head. And, to be honest, he was a bit of a bully, especially to those of us younger than he was.

We fully reconciled as adults (thank you, G-d). By then, Chris had run away from home, gotten married, started on a brood of kids, and – ironically – moved one block away from my parent’s house, wanting to be close to family. He had apprenticed as a carpenter, and now worked as a handyman, doing plumbing or fixing a wall or replacing a heater or sump pump – anything that needed doing.

I was helping him one day, retrieving something from his garage. I noticed an imposing cabinet among the junk, with intricate tooling along the posts and reflectively smooth woodwork. Beautiful.

I asked if this was something that he found somewhere and was restoring – imagining the price he might get for this antique, clearly crafted in another era, one less about pre-fab and conformity.

He didn’t find it; he had built it from scratch. Just something he was messing with.

I learned something new that day, something that would never have occurred to me.

My brother was an artist.

He was an artist who replaced heaters and sump pumps because he had kids to feed; an artist who would never do more than mess around with his craft.

I like to think of my brother Chris as a carpenter. Carpentry is a good trade. In fact, I serve a carpenter.

Yeah, I like to think of Chris as a carpenter.

Chris Gaffney
September 3, 1963 - June 10, 2006

Just my thoughts,

Sean

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

In my thoughts and prayers, Sean.

~ Nathan

Linds said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I'll be praying.

Ann said...

My heart and thoughts are with you and Cath, Sean. I pray that your brother is with the carpenter you serve building beautiful cabinets together.
-Ann

janet said...

I'm so very sorry to hear of your clearly unexpected and much much too early loss, Sean. I am astonished that you showed up for the meeting on Sunday night with such a loss so fresh, and at the grace you showed that evening. What beautiful thoughts. Your whole family is in our prayers.

--Jan

Gaffney said...

Thank you all.

Jan -- yeah, it was hard to be at that meeting. But distraction has been good for me as well, and giving a year end treasurer report is good distraction.

-Sean

Sarah said...

Sean, I'm so sorry! I too didn't realize you'd come to the meeting with that weighing on you.

I'm so glad for you that you had a chance to discover a new perspecitve on your brother! That was a gift of God, to be sure.

My prayers go out to you and your family.

Clayton said...

You and your whole family will be in my prayers.

Gaffney said...

Thank you. Prayers continue to be coveted and appreciated.

-Sean